December 02, 2014

Villanova has looked good behind its balanced scoring and a solid defense, though coach Jay Wright understands December brings new tests with the start of Big Five play.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats seek their 13th consecutive regular-season win Wednesday night when they open Philadelphia's annual city series against La Salle, which hopes to avoid a third straight defeat.

Villanova (6-0) picked up where it left off Sunday after beating then-No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth and No. 17 Michigan to earn the championship of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.

Reserve forward Kris Jenkins led five players in double figures with 13 points and hit four 3-pointers in a 78-47 home win over Delaware. The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers and limited the Blue Hens to 31.0 percent shooting.

Villanova, which has shot 47.9 percent overall over its last three games, showed improvement from 3-point range by going a season-best 13 of 32 (40.6 percent) after making 28.9 percent in its previous five.

Legends Classic tourney MVP Dylan Ennis leads the Wildcats at 12.8 points per game, while six others average at least 7.8.

"It's pretty unique," Wright said ahead of the club's first road test. "That balance gives us a chance to be a good team."

Villanova also hopes to keep playing well defensively heading into Big Five play after limiting opponents to an average of 51.7 points on 36.4 percent shooting - including 23.8 from 3-point range - in its last three games.

La Salle (4-2) has scuffled offensively by shooting 38.1 percent overall and 25.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Explorers scored a season low in Saturday's 68-55 loss to Vanderbilt in the consolation game of the Barclays Center Classic.

They also fell 64-56 to then-No. 8 Virginia on Friday after winning their first four against significantly lesser opponents.

"We just need to get better against the competition we saw from Virginia and Vanderbilt, and we are going to see against Villanova and Temple," coach John Giannini said. "We have seen success against a certain level of teams this year, but we need to be able to have success against the next level."

The Explorers have dropped 11 of 12 meetings with Villanova, but they pulled out a 77-74 overtime win in the most recent matchup at Tom Gola Arena in November 2012.

The Wildcats won all four games in the 2013-14 Big Five series, including a 73-52 home win Dec. 15 to deal La Salle its only intracity defeat. Villanova will also host Saint Joseph's on Saturday, while the Explorers take on Temple at The Palestra.

"I've gotten to see just enough of La Salle, Temple and Saint Joe's (to know) that this will be just like every other year," Wright told the team's official website. "(This is) a Big Five game and they can beat us. I thought La Salle battled well up there in New York. They are a tough team with good size and perimeter skill."

Auburn transfer Jordan Price, averaging a team-high 17.7 points, will try to bounce back after he scored nine on 3-of-10 shooting against the Commodores. Price is shooting just 36.9 percent.

Philadelphia native Jerrell Wright has put up 19 points in two of his last three games. The senior forward also led the Explorers with 20 and seven rebounds last season against the Wildcats.

Villanova's Darrun Hilliard scored 21 in that contest, but he's seen his average drop from 14.3 points last season to 9.7 so far while shooting just 35.6 percent.

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