NOVEMBER REIGN

Vil­lanova sets record with 15th straight Big 5 vic­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Terry Toohey ttoohey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ter­ryToohey on Twit­ter

PHILADELPHIA >> Ed Pinck­ney, Dwayne McClain and Gary McLain could not do it. Nei­ther could Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Ja­son Fraser or Ryan Ar­cidi­a­cono and Daniel Ochefu.

Since fresh­men be­came el­i­gi­ble in 1972-73, no class at Vil­lanova has been able to go un­de­feated in the month of November for four con­sec­u­tive years un­til Josh Hart, Kris Jenk­ins and Dar­ryl Reynolds ar­rived on cam­pus in 2013.

Fit­tingly, those se­nior com­bined for 46 points as the sec­on­dranked Wild­cats rolled over Penn, 82-57, Tues­day night at the Palestra in the Big 5 opener to both teams to ex­tend their November record to 26-0 over the last four years.

In the process, Vil­lanova (7-0) also ex­tended its Big 5 win­ning streak to a record 15 games and ex­tended its dom­i­nance over the Quakers to 14 games in a row.

Spring­field na­tive and Penn coach Steve Don­ahue, who spent a few years in the ACC as the head coach at Bos­ton Col­lege, was wowed by what the Wild­cats have been able to do.

“The thing that im­presses me the most is that there is an in­cred­i­ble buy-in,” Don­ahue said of Vil­lanova’s suc­cess over the last four years. “That’s not that easy

at that level. It’s not easy at any level, but it’s very dif­fi­cult with the dis­trac­tions that go along with play­ing at that level, kids who have their eye on the NBA and have a lot of peo­ple in their ear.

“Their cul­ture at Vil­lanova is what makes them great. I don’t mean this to slight their tal­ent, but there’s a lot more ta­lented teams in this coun­try. Not a ton, but a good share, (teams with) more length, more size, more speed, depth, skill, but there’s no team that plays to­gether and that hard in ev­ery as­pect of the game.”

All of those at­tributes were on dis­play against the Quakers (2-3) as the Vil­lanova jug­ger­naut kept rolling along.

Jenk­ins, the hero of the na­tional cham­pi­onship team, led all scor­ers with 22 points to be­come the 63rd mem­ber of the 1,000-point club at Vil­lanova. He has scored 1,009 points in his ca­reer.

How did he re­act to be­com­ing a mem­ber of that club? Jenk­ins shrugged it off, of course.

“What does it mean?,” asked Jenk­ins, who shot 6-for-7 from 3-point land. “It means 1,000. It doesn’t mean that much.”

Jenk­ins was think­ing about Satur­day’s show­down with Saint Joseph’s at the Pav­il­ion. And so was Hart who had 12 points, nine as­sists and six re­bounds de­spite not start­ing as pun­ish­ment for being late to a weight train­ing ses­sion Sun­day.

Hart also did not re­al­ize that the Wild­cats were on the verge of go­ing un­de­feated in November for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year, as well as being on the cusp of Big 5 his­tory un­til re­cently.

“I wasn’t aware of it un­til the last game,” Hart said of Vil­lanova’s November suc­cess. “We were watch­ing film and it popped up in one of the clips. That’s the first time I ever saw it. No one ever talked about it. I don’t think any­one else knew. If that clip wasn’t in the film, I would not have known. It’s some­thing that’s neat and some­thing we’ll come back to down the line, but we’re fo­cused on the next game. We’ll cel­e­brate those things at the end of the year.”

The Wild­cats will cel­e­brate their ac­com­plish­ments as a group, which is how they rolled past the Quakers to con­tinue an im­pres­sive win­ning streak that grows more re­mark­able with each pass­ing game.

Reynolds reached dou­ble fig­ures for the sec­ond time this sea­son with 12 points. He also pulled down eight re­bounds. Red­shirt fresh­man Donte DiVin­cenzo took Hart’s place in the start­ing lineup and tal­lied 13 points in the first start of his col­le­giate ca­reer.

Mikal Bridges continues to fill in nicely for Phil Booth in the start­ing lineup. Booth missed his fourth straight game with left knee in­flam­ma­tion. He is pos­si­ble for Satur­day’s game with Saint Joseph’s and prob­a­ble for next Tues­day’s game against La Salle. Bridges contributed 10 points, five re­bounds and two as­sists.

Mean­while, Jalen Brun­son had an­other solid game at the point. The sopho­more fin­ished with 11 points and two as­sists in 29 min­utes.

Add it all to­gether and you have an­other dom­i­nat­ing vic­tory for the Wild­cats early in the sea­son, some­thing that has be­come com­mon­place since Hart, Jenk­ins and Reynolds ar­rived on the Main Line.

Vil­lanova’s 26-0 run in November came against 24 teams with a 55.3 win­ning per­cent­age. In that stretch the Wild­cats went 4-0 against the Big 10, 2-0 ver­sus the ACC and PAC-12 and 1-0 against the Big 12.

The Big 5 streak is just as im­pres­sive. Vil­lanova has won its last 15 City Se­ries games by an av­er­age of 18.8 points per game. Only one of those games, a 6561 de­ci­sion over Saint Joseph’s Dec. 12, 2012, was by sin­gle dig­its. The rest have been by at least 13 points and eight have been by 20 points or more.

Vil­lanova’s last Big 5 loss was a 76-61 de­ci­sion to Tem­ple at the Pav­il­ion Dec. 5, 2012.

“They’re men­tally and phys­i­cally tougher than their op­po­nents,” Don­ahue said. “They know it. I don’t sense a cock­i­ness about them, but I sense an in­cred­i­ble con­fi­dence about how they’re go­ing to win.”

••• Penn had three play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures. Jack­son Don­ahue led the way with 12 points, Dar­nell Foreman and fresh­man A.J. Brodeur chipped in with 10 points each. The Quakers are back in ac­tion Satur­day against Tem­ple at the Li­a­couras Cen­ter.

LAU­RENCE KESTERSON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vil­lanova guard Jalen Brun­son drives around Penn guard Dar­nell Foreman in the first half Tues­day.

LAU­RENCE KESTERSON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Penn’sy Jack­son Don­ahue (5) and Donte DiVin­cenzo of Vil­lanova chase down a loose ball Tues­day.

LAU­RENCE KESTERSON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vil­lanova guard Donte DiVin­cenzo takes a shot past Dar­nell Foreman of Penn in the sec­ond half Tues­day.

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