Villanova faces big challenge in Georgetown

Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, in action against Pitt, said: "I really think we can get one against Georgetown." KEITH SRAKOCIC / Associated Press
Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, in action against Pitt, said: "I really think we can get one against Georgetown." KEITH SRAKOCIC / Associated Press
Posted: March 07, 2013

After a pair of excruciating road losses in which it had the lead in the final minute of regulation and with its NCAA tournament chances slipping away, Villanova can't afford to moan about bad luck. It needs to look ahead and prepare for arguably the nation's hottest team.

Fifth-ranked Georgetown heads into the Wells Fargo Center for Wednesday night's contest riding an 11-game winning streak and boasting a leading candidate for national player of the year in 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Otto Porter.

Villanova coach Jay Wright acknowledges the losses get tougher now "because you know you're running out of time."

"We've got a big game Wednesday, and we've got to bounce back and prepare," Wright said. "That's what a season's all about. I thought [against Pittsburgh] we responded great from the Seton Hall game after a very tough loss."

Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono said that because the Wildcats have remained positive, "I really think we can get one against Georgetown. I said that after Seton Hall, too, but I really do. I think if we play a full 40 minutes, why not? We've done it before."

Resiliency helps Temple

Temple coach Fran Dunphy was asked Monday to pinpoint the reason for his team's turnaround.

The Owls head into Wednesday's Atlantic Ten game at Fordham with five consecutive victories. Before the winning streak, Temple (21-8, 9-5 A-10) had suffered six setbacks during a 12-game stretch.

"I like to think we are improving defensively," Dunphy said. "But I think this is an interesting group. We've always been a resilient group. We found a way in a couple of games to win."

Resiliency has aided Temple during the streak more so than defense. Other than games against La Salle and Charlotte, the Owls' defense has been similar to what it was before the last five games.

Opponents are shooting 43 percent, including 36.7 percent on three-pointers on the current win streak. Before the streak, teams were shooting 43.6 percent and 34.9 percent on threes against Temple.

"We have some guys that know how to win in the end," Dunphy said. "Hopefully, we will continue with that."

Aiken's status unknown

St. Joseph's center C.J. Aiken will likely be a game-time decision for Wednesday's contest at Hagan Arena against Rhode Island.

Aiken missed Saturday's 82-56 win over visiting Fordham with back and wrist injuries. He suffered a sprain to his (non-shooting) left wrist during last week's 70-53 loss at St. Louis, aggravating an earlier injury.

No surprises for Explorers

In rolling over Duquesne, the last-place team in the A-10, La Salle made sure its foe would not pull off a surprise upset - as the Dukes did at Temple in mid-February.

Even so, Explorers coach John Giannini says his players do not deserve a prize for taking care of business the way it did last weekend because, "they know winning in the Atlantic Ten is hard."

"I don't think we should be praised for having a mature team. That's how it should be," Giannini said. "A team that thinks, 'Well, we must be better than these guys,' they're going to lose a lot, and they're very immature, and they're probably not going to be very good. So I think what we're doing is normal."

The Explorers learned their lesson about taking opponents lightly in their second game of the season, a home loss to Central Connecticut.

"There are no games won on paper," Giannini said. "It's a little harder than it looks on paper."

Lee heating up at Drexel

Very few players in the city are hotter than Drexel's Damion Lee.

The 6-6 sophomore has averaged 19.3 points during his last six games. His highlight was a career-high 34-point and 10-rebound effort in an 81-77 victory over George Mason on Thursday. The Baltimore native scored the most points by a Drexel player since Tim Whitworth dropped 38 on George Mason during the 2001-02 season.

Tony Time at Penn

Tony Hicks, a freshman guard at Penn, averaged 23.5 points in last week's victories over Dartmouth and Harvard.

For his efforts, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder is the Ivy League rookie of the week for the second consecutive week.

Hicks has been the Quakers' leading scorer in each of the last four games.

A more confident player emerges.

Temple point guard Will Cummings showed a glimpse on Saturday that he might be capable of filling the giant void left by Juan Fernandez's departure.

Fernandez averaged 10.9 points and 3.6 assists in his four-year career at Temple before he signed to play professionally in Italy in April.

Replacing Fernandez was no easy task for Cummings. He averaged just 5.5 points through 28 games while struggling in his role. Reserve point guard T.J. DiLeo - not Cummings - saw most of the late-game action.

Not Saturday.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder made 6 of 7 shots to finish with a career-high 15 points in a 76-70 victory over Rhode Island. Cummings also had four steals in 33 minutes of action. He had scored just three points in each of the previous three games and averaged 18 minutes in those contests.

"I was just playing with the confidence that I know I have and not really thinking twice about doing stuff on the court," he said of Saturday's game.

Indecisive play had been Cummings' biggest problem. He didn't seem to know whether to shoot or pass. That often led to mistakes. As a result, it led to his seeing limited action.

"I was just playing with the freedom in my mind, and playing basketball how I know how to play it," Cummings said. "That was the big difference."

- Keith Pompey

Contact Keith Pompey at Follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.

Staff writers Joe Juliano and Marc Narducci contributed to this article.

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