Villanova turned in an uneven effort in a Philadelphia Big 5 matchup its last time out while playing without two key reserves. Up next is a matchup with another city rival that appears to be improving.
The 12th-ranked Wildcats look to defeat Pennsylvania for the eighth straight time when the teams meet at the Palestra on Wednesday night.Villanova (6-1) looked rusty after having six days off between games -- its longest stretch without playing to this point -- in a 71-60 victory over Saint Joseph's on Friday. Isaiah Armwood (back spasms) and Maurice Sutton (sprained left ankle) sat out for the Wildcats, who used seven players."We missed their presence out there," said forward Antonio Pena, who had 14 points and 14 boards.While the status of those two is unclear, freshman forward JayVaughn Pinkston was suspended for the rest of the season Monday after being charged with assault. Coach Jay Wright says Pinkston will be allowed to rejoin the team in June.Of more immediate concern to Wright is another poor shooting effort, as Villanova was below 40 percent for the second straight game at 38.5. The Wildcats are the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the Big East at 29.0 percent."I think we're a good shooting team that's missing shots right now," Wright said. "But we'll see."Villanova hasn't lost to Pennsylvania (4-3) since a 72-58 defeat Dec. 10, 2002. The Wildcats beat the Quakers 103-65 last Nov. 16 as six Villanova players scored in double figures.That loss was part of a disastrous 6-22 season for Pennsylvania, which named former Quakers star Jerome Allen interim coach after firing Glenn Miller following an 0-7 start. Allen was given the permanent job after the season.The Quakers appear to be better this season, winning 68-52 over Army on Saturday for their second straight victory. Zack Rosen scored 20 points as Penn shot 51.1 percent.Penn has faced one Big East team this season, losing 82-58 to then-No. 5 Pittsburgh on Nov. 27. The Quakers are looking to put forth a better effort Wednesday."When you play teams that are nationally ranked and have a winning program in terms of coach Wright and the Wildcats have gone deep into the tournament and some of their guys are veterans and seasoned and know how to play, we gotta be sharp," Allen said.Tyler Bernardini scored a season-high 13 points Saturday as he continues to try and regain his form from two seasons ago, when he led the team with a 13.7 scoring average. The senior guard played two games last season before going down with a foot injury."We need to play extremely hard on Wednesday," Bernardini said. "They're a team that really gets after it. They're very up-tempo, and we've gotta be very crisp on our actions and be ready to defend for 40 minutes."The Wildcats have been hampered by the shooting woes of guards Cory Fisher and Maalik Wayns. Fisher, a senior, is shooting a career-low 33.7 percent while the sophomore Wayns is at 36.9, including 5 of 30 on 3-pointers."We have work to do, but we'll get better," Fisher said.