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Jacksonville

No. 21 Villanova prepares for Big 5 battle with Temple

Sports Xchange
05 Dec 2018, 11:45 GMT+10

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Villanova will be searching for its 24th straight Big 5 victory when it hosts Temple on Wednesday night at Finneran Pavilion.

The No. 21-ranked Wiildcats have won four in a row after a 85-78 victory over La Salle on Saturday night at the Palestra. The game against the Owls (7-1) will be the second of four Big 5 matchups this season. The others are against Saint Joseph's and Penn.

Villanova (6-2) received 27 points from Eric Paschall and 19 from Phil Booth in the win. Collin Gillespie added 15.

Though La Salle remained winless (0-8), Villanova was forced to grind out the victory against a city rival.

"I don't know if some of our young guys were ready for this early," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the Big 5 battle. "I think they got a good taste of it today. But to have two seniors like Eric and Phil who have been in games like this is probably the difference in the game."

Villanova hasn't lost a Big 5 game since falling to Temple on Dec. 5, 2012. The Wildcats will enter the matchup against the Owls on a four-game winning streak.

Villanova defeated Canisius, Oklahoma State and then-No. 14 Florida State 66-60 to capture the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., before the seven-point win over La Salle.

"Believe it or not, as many mistakes as we made, to come into an environment like this for us to keep grinding and find a way, is how you build (confidence)," Wright said. "We've got to keep that going."

Temple is off to its best start since the 2012-13 season, when it began 8-1 before losing its second game. The Owls will be facing their first Top 25 team of the season against Villanova.

Last season was the 11th straight in which Temple defeated a Top 25 team -- an 81-79 overtime victory over No. 16 Wichita State.

Temple has dropped five in a row to Villanova but has won three of the last nine.

In Temple's most game, it defeated Saint Joseph's 77-70 on Saturday at Hagan Arena. Senior Shizz Alston Jr. and junior Quinton Rose scored 15 points each to lead Temple.

Alston went 6 of 6 from the free throw line and added six assists and five rebounds. Rose also made all six of his free throws.

Temple is 2-0 in the Big 5 heading into this matchup.

"Just one of my goals is to win the Big 5 championship," Alston told Philly.com. "They (Villanova) won it for a number of years in a row and beating Villanova would help toward that goal, and that is my goal."

Temple won seven of its first eight games despite shooting less than 30 percent from 3-point territory.

"We're 7-1 and have been shooting terrible from 3," Alston told Philly.com. "That is a good thing in my mind because if we can get that together, we can be a scary team."

Though Villanova has lost to Michigan and Furman at home, they Wildcats still are a formidable opponent as evidenced by their Big 5 winning streak.

"I am still looking for it," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of a possible weakness in Villanova.

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