NCAA Basketball

Penn looks to upset No. 6 Villanova in Big 5 matchup

Villanova will look for its second straight victory in the Big 5 when it battles Pennsylvania on Wednesday at the Palestra in Philadelphia.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats (4-2) opened Big 5 play with a resounding 72-46 win over La Salle on Sunday also at the Palestra. They still have Big 5 games looming against Saint Joseph's and Temple.

Villanova coach Jay Wright holds a 17-4 career record against the Quakers.

Even though the Wildcats will be heavily favored once again, nothing is guaranteed in Big 5 matchups.

Wright is fully aware of that fact, especially after losing to Penn 78-75 on Dec. 11, 2018.

"It's a Big 5 game, and in these, it's always survive and advance," Wright said after the win over the Explorers. "We played a good first half. We did a really good job defensively. They adjusted in the second half and made it tougher on us. We didn't do as good a job in the second half. We'll take it."

The flu bug has gone through the team so Wright called on key reserve Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to provide some depth in a surprising five-minute stint. He may be needed again when the Wildcats compete against Penn.

Cosby-Roundtree, who scored two points and grabbed two rebounds on Sunday, originally was thought to be lost for the season with shin and leg issues.

"We've been battling the flu," Wright said of the Philadelphia-native graduate student. "We needed bodies in practice, so we put Da Da in there and he looked really good. I know he isn't supposed to be able to do this. I knew he wanted to play, and we said, 'Let's give it a shot.' For not having played in a year and a half, I thought he looked really good."

Penn will hope to avoid a third consecutive loss when it meets Villanova.

The Quakers (3-6) fell 76-60 to then-No. 13 Arkansas on Sunday in Fayetteville, Ark.

Sophomore Clark Slajchert led Penn with a career-high 25 points. Leading scorer Jordan Dingle sat out due to an illness, and it was unclear if he would return against the Wildcats. Big men Michael Wang and Max Lorco-Lloyd were sidelined, too.

Still, Penn on the perimeter, making just 7 of 27 attempts (25.9 percent).

"Any time you're playing a team as good as Arkansas, you've gotta make shots," Penn coach Steve Donahue said. "They don't do a great job of defending the 3-ball, and we made it a point of emphasis to shoot from 3. At the end of the day, with the way we shot the ball, we can't expect to win games against that type of talent."

The Quakers now must defend well against the long-range shot, too, as Villanova is hitting 42.2 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc.

Donahue believes his team's difficult early-season games will be beneficial in the long run.

"It may have been expecting a little too much to come and beat a team that is really physical and tough on their home court," Donahue said of the Arkansas loss. "We'll learn from it and move on."

--Field Level Media

Updated November 30, 2021

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