Saint Joseph's-Villanova Preview
Villanova closed the month of November with a dominating 82-57 victory at Penn on Tuesday night.
The second-ranked Wildcats (7-0) captured their 26th straight win in the month of November and the record 15th in a row over a Big 5 opponent.
Villanova will now open December with another Big 5 rivalry matchup as it hosts Saint Joseph's in what is annually referred to as the "Holy War" Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at The Pavilion.
"I honestly can't wrap my head around that and I don't want to, because it's not going to do us any good," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said of the November streak. "I don't mean that disrespectfully. If we are thinking about that, it's not going to help us get better. And we've got to keep on getting better.
"At the ends of their careers, I think these (seniors) will talk about these things. I'm really proud of them. When I'm done coaching, I think this is a four-year run in November that I will be really proud of -- the tournaments won and all of it. Right now, though, we've got to force ourselves not to think about it. We've got a game coming up."
The hottest Villanova player is senior Kris Jenkins, who scored 22 points against Penn and became the 63rd player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier. Jenkins knocked down 6 of 7 from beyond the arc on his way to leading the team in scoring. Five other Wildcats scored in double figures as well.
Despite the offensive output, Jenkins pointed to another reason for the latest victory.
"We try not to rely on offense," Jenkins said. "All the energy came from the defensive end. We did a great job of playing together defensively and that's where all the energy came from."
Saint Joseph's opened the season 3-0 but has since dropped three straight, including a 78-72 loss to Temple Wednesday night at Hagan Arena.
Shavar Newkirk carried the Hawks with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists as he registered a fourth consecutive 20-plus point game. Guard Lamarr Kimble scored 12 points and tied his career-high with nine assists. In addition, freshman Nick Robinson posted his first career game in double figures with 11 points.
Saint Joseph's has struggled after halftime in the last three losses, a fact that was clear to head coach Phil Martelli following the six-point loss to the Owls.
"The number that I've been studying is the first five minutes of the second half," Martelli said. "Through our first five games, we lost the first five minutes of the second half by 22 points. So we were emphatic about that. We had won that first media timeout by two points."
Saint Joseph's, which went 3-1 in the Big 5 last year, will receive a break following the Villanova game for final exams and will then visit Drexel on Dec. 11.
The Hawks have lost four straight in the all-time series with Villanova and last won 74-58 on Dec. 17, 2011.