By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
1 (Formerly: 1). Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East)
Previous week: W 77-68 @ Providence, W 68-65 @ Butler
Upcoming week: Monday vs. Seton Hall, Saturday @ Marquette
We’re long since used to the Wildcats dominating at home; now, they’re taking care of business in the tough road contest as well in extending their most recent winning streak to 6 games. First, up in Providence, an 11-0 second-half run helped Villanova put the game out of reach against the Friars. The Wildcats received 5 points from Daniel Ochefu during that surge, who finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono scored a game-high 20 points, shooting 3-6 from three and a perfect 9-9 from the foul line.
Then, it was all Darrun Hilliard, all the time over the weekend against Butler. Hilliard was basically the entire offense of Villanova on the game, making a career-high 8 threes (on 13 attempts) en route to a career-high 31 points. All of which made it more surprising that the Butler defense would even think of leaving Hilliard alone on this game-winning three in the closing seconds.
With the win, Villanova moved a full two games ahead of second-place Butler while owning the tiebreaker. Having the the Big East regular season title all but secured, the Wildcats can keep building their overall tournament resume and remain in the hunt for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Given how they’re performed so far this season, Jay Wright’s squad stacks up about as well as any team in the country.
Only three teams top-15 in both Adjusted O and D: Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova. — Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) February 15, 2015
2 (2). Temple (19-7, 10-3 AAC)
Previous week: W 75-59 vs. Cincinnati, W 66-53 vs. East Carolina
Upcoming week: Thursday @ SMU, Sunday @ Tulsa
You can read our full recap from press row on the Owls’ dominant victory against Cincinnati here. Their strong play continued against East Carolina, as Temple nearly doubled the Pirates’ total on the glass, outrebounding ECU 49-26, including 18-5 on the offensive glass. Jaylen Bond was a beast in that deparment, grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds, two off his career-high of 18 set earlier this season. Although the Owls didn’t have a great offensive outing, Will Cummings had another terrific all-around performance, recording a game-high 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Temple is expected to have Obi Enechiyonia back from his ankle injury in the upcoming week, a great boost for a Owls team that will need all hands on deck against SMU and Tulsa. Those two clubs are the two schools currently ahead of Temple in the AAC standings. Thanks to their now 7-game winning streak, the Owls could conceivably find themselves in first place at this time next week with a couple more victories.
3 (3). La Salle (14-11, 6-6 A-10)
Previous week: W 74-69 2OT @ VCU, L 77-69 vs. Davidson
Upcoming week: Wednesday vs. Duquesne, Sunday @ Saint Louis
La Salle earned its best victory of the season; all it took was VCU leading scorer Treveon Graham sitting out with a high ankle sprain, two overtimes, and one of the top performances in college basketball this season from Jordan Price. Price became the first D-1 player this season to record 34 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists in a game, hitting 5 of 10 threes, including a game-tying triple on La Salle’s final possession of regulation. After the teams played evenly in the first extra frame, Price scored 12 points in the second overtime to propel the Explorers to the win.
The Explorers couldn’t finish as well in their next contest against the Wildcats. A crucial 7-0 Davidson run in the closing minutes proved the difference in what was a nip and tuck game throughout the afternoon. Price followed up his tremendous outing against VCU with 22 points, but the disparity from behind the arc between the two teams was too great. La Salle shot just 4-17 from three, while Davidson made 10 of their 24 attempts. The Explorers should have a chance to bounce back this week, facing two clubs at a combined 5-19 in A-10 play.
4 (4). Drexel (10-15, 8-6 CAA)
Previous week: W 53-49 vs. Towson, L 81-57 vs. Hofstra
Upcoming week: Wednesday @ James Madison, Saturday @ Northeastern
The Dragons couldn’t make it 7 in a row against Hofstra; check out the full recap here. Prior to that contest, Drexel topped Towson behind a dominant defensive effort, especially in the first half. The Dragons went into the break with up 29-17, having held the Tigers to just 21% shooting in the first half. Rodney Williams was an animal protecting the rim, recording 6 blocks; hopefully, it wasn’t the last full game he’ll play for a while, as he’s going to be checked for a concussion after leaving Sunday’s game. Damion Lee was nearly the entire offense for the Dragons, recording a game-high 23 points on 6-11 shooting. He also shot a perfect 11-11 from the foul line, sealing the game for Drexel at the charity stripe in the final minute.
Drexel remains right in the thick of things in the CAA standings, but finish the season with a very difficult stretch. The Dragons’ final 4 games come against three teams ahead of them in the standings, plus arch-rival Delaware. Drexel may have lost out on Tina Fey, but a strong finish to the regular season is still within their reach.
“[Without Eddie Murphy], Tina Fey would’ve been the funniest English professor at Drexel University.” — Chris Rock #SNL40
— Vulture (@vulture) February 16, 2015
5 (5). Saint Joseph’s (11-13, 5-7 A-10)
Previous week: W 65-64 vs. Rhode Island, L 69-55 @ Fordham
Upcoming week: Thursday @ Dayton, Saturday vs. St. Bonaventure
The Hawks gave their fans a reason to believe in second chances with an exciting last-minute finish against the Rams. With the Hawks trailing by two with 12 seconds remaining, Chris Wilson missed a three to move to 0-4 from behind the arc on the game. However, Aaron Brown grabbed the offensive rebounds and fed Wilson again. The senior guard did not miss this time around, sinking the corner three to give St. Joe’s the upset victory. DeAndre Bembry was his usual dynamic jack-of-all-trades for the Hawks, tallying 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
The good tidings came crashing down Sunday afternoon against Fordham, a team that had only won a single A-10 game entering the game. After St. Joe’s hit 5 of their first 7 threes to lead 15-9, the Hawks went absolutely ice-cold from downtown. They shot 2-21 on threes from then on, and this time, Bembry wasn’t able to bail them out. Bembry had 18 points, but shot just 7-18, committed 4 turnovers and only grabbed 1 rebound. Isaiah Miles was the only other Hawk in double figures with 12 points and 7 rebounds, but also struggled from the field, shooting 4-13. They’ll need a much better effort across the board in Dayton, where the Flyers are 13-0 at home this season.
6 (6). Pennsylvania (7-14, 2-5 Ivy)
Previous week: L 75-48 vs. Yale, L 71-55 vs. Brown
Upcoming week: Friday @ Harvard, Saturday @ Dartmouth
It was a rough offensive weekend for the Quakers, as they failed to shoot better than 36% in either loss to Yale or Brown. While the Bulldogs shot 12-22 from three, Penn only had one player in double figures: Tony Hicks with 12 points. However, Hicks was held scoreless in the second half, and those struggles continued into the next day’s game against Brown. In the loss to the Bears, Hicks shot just 1-12 from the field for 6 points. Penn also struggled to defend the three once again, as Brown shot 9-17 from behind the arc. Three of those treys came during a pivotal 14-4 run by Brown to open the second half and quickly erased Penn’s 1-point halftime lead. Matt Howard was the sole Quaker to finish in double figures with a career-high 19 points.
Penn understandably struggled against first-place Yale, but you would have liked to see a better effort against Brown, a team that won just its 2nd game in conference play. They’ll have a tall task ahead in facing Harvard, who defeated Penn by 25 at the Palestra last month. The following contest against Dartmouth, who Penn topped for one of its two conference victories already, might represent their next chance to turn things around.