Navy (8-3) at (18) Villanova (10-1)
Monday, December 22nd, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pavilion (6,500) -- Villanova, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Navy 5-0, Villanova 6-0. Away Record: Navy 3-2, Villanova 2-0. Neutral Record: Navy 0-1, Villanova 2-1. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Villanova 0-0. Series Record: Navy leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The 18th-ranked Villanova Wildcats continue to gear up for what promises to be a brutal Big East Conference slate, and they will play host to the Navy Midshipmen this evening in a non-league clash.
Navy has earned an 8-3 record, although two of the last three outings have resulted in defeat. The Midshipmen fell to Canisius on Saturday by a 68-63 final, and they are now 3-3 away from their home arena.
Villanova has been idle since December 14th when it knocked off Philadelphia area rival La Salle by a 70-59 final. The Wildcats, who are 10-1 overall, have posted back-to-back wins since suffering their lone loss to Texas. Jay Wright's team is 6-0 at home and clearly favored this evening.
Navy owns a 5-3 lead in the all-time series with Villanova, but the Wildcats have won the last three meetings.
Navy is led by Kaleo Kina, as he is scoring 20.8 ppg this season. Far from just a scorer though, Kina is also pulling down 6.2 rpg while placing second on the squad in assists and first in steals. Chris Harris provides 14.5 ppg for the Midshipmen, and Adam Teague adds 11.1 ppg. Strong defense has been key to Navy's success, as it has managed to limit opponents to 39.2 percent shooting from the floor. Kina finished with 21 points against Canisius on Saturday, but his 7-of-24 shooting effort was far from impressive. Romeo Garcia tallied 11 points in the setback for Navy, which simply did not play well offensively. The poor shooting and a 57-45 rebounding deficit overshadowed the fact that the Midshipmen limited the Golden Griffs to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Villanova is scoring 74.9 ppg this season, and the team has excelled at the defensive end of the court, limiting opponents to 57.8 ppg on 38.5 percent shooting from the floor. The Wildcats are led by Dante Cunningham, who is posting 16.7 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Scottie Reynolds provides 13.9 ppg, but his 37.7 percent shooting from the field simply must improve. As for Corey Stokes, who adds 12.3 ppg, he is the third and final double-digit scorer for Villanova, which finished with 20 assists against only eight turnovers in the most recent win over La Salle. The Wildcats were outrebounded and outscored from the foul line in the tilt, but they limited the Explorers to 37.5 percent shooting from the field. Stokes tallied 18 points in that game, and Reynolds pitched in 13.
Being the superior team in this matchup, expect Villanova to jump on top early and never look back as it cruises to a double-digit victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 78, Navy 59
12/22 10:47:51 ET