Jay Wright would like to see more consistency from his team, which has won 12 straight games dating to last season - including the 2016 national championship. No. 2 Villanova begins the Big 5 portion of its schedule Tuesday, when the defending champion visits Pennsylvania.
The Wildcats have won 14 straight games in the Big 5 - an annual set of round-robin games against their Philadelphia rivals. They topped Penn by 20 points last season thanks to 22 from Jalen Brunson, who enters Tuesday looking to rebound from his lowest-scoring effort of the campaign. The talented sophomore guard was held to seven points in Wednesday’s 16-point triumph over Charleston, although Josh Hart stepped up with 13 and 11 rebounds. “We need to learn to bring it every night. That was the key to Ryan (Arcidiacono) and Daniel (Ochefu) last year,“ Wright told reporters in reference to last season’s senior leaders. ”They had a mature approach to every game. Their approach was like that of a 15-year NBA veteran – they came to work every day. Josh is really getting good at that. But our team’s got to get good at that.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia
ABOUT VILLANOVA (6-0): The Wildcats set a season low for points scored (63) against Charleston, although they also set a season low for points allowed (47). Hart has shot at least 50 percent in five of the six games and leads the team at 18.2 points on the season. Kris Jenkins, the hero from last season’s national championship game, has seen his numbers drop a bit but still has drained multiple 3s in five of the Wildcats’ six contests.
ABOUT PENNSYLVANIA (2-2): The Quakers have alternated wins and losses this season and are coming off a two-point setback at Navy despite four of their five scorers finishing in double digits. Caleb Wood notched a team-high 15 points and is tied for the team lead at 13.8 per game. AJ Brodeur averages that same number, and the freshman forward has recorded multiple blocks in every contest this season.
1. Hart had four turnovers against Charleston after committing a total of six in his first five games.
2. Wildcats G Phil Booth has missed the last three games with a knee injury, but he may return for Tuesday’s contest.
3. Penn G Jackson Donahue is shooting 23.1 percent from the floor, although his eight 3-pointers rank second on the team.
PREDICTION: Villanova 87, Penn 66