By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The hottest team in the city these days is Villanova.
Jay Wright’s Wildcats sit at 10-4, and they are enjoying a six-game winning streak as they get ready to visit South Florida on Wednesday in Big East action.
Last time out, Villanova opened conference play with a 98-86, overtime win at the Pavilion against St. John’s on Wednesday.
“Our guys learned (in that win) that we’ve got to get a lot better defensively,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright tells KYW Newsradio. “They also learned that they’ve got a lot of guts. They’ve done this in a number of close games this year, where they’ve really finished the game strong.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Jay Wright:
Wright says that strong play late in games is just one of many reasons why his team has been able to win six straight after a bit of an uneven, 4-4 start to the season.
“I think our offensive execution (is another reason),” Wright says. “I think we’re sharing the ball better, I think (freshman guard) Ryan Arcidiacono is being more aggressive offensively. I think also, on the defensive end, in crunch time, we have been effective. We’ve also gotten to the foul line, we’re getting to the foul line at a very high rate.”
Arcidiacono had 32 points in that win over St. John’s, and he has been named the Big East Rookie of the Week each of the last two weeks. For the season, the Neshaminy High product is averaging 13 points a game. That is second on the team behind sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston’s 13.2 a contest.
South Florida is 9-4 heading into Wednesday, they lost their Big East opener at home to Syracuse on Sunday, 55-44. Prior to that they had won four straight.
“They can really defend, they are strong on the glass,” Wright says. “And their point guard, I think, is as good as anybody in the country. Anthony Collins is a sophomore, last year as a freshman he led them to the NCAA Tournament. He’s as good as any point guard in the country.”
Collins is averaging 9.8 points a game and he has 93 assists in 12 games (7.8/game).
Villanova and South Florida will tip-off at 8:00pm on Wednesday down in Tampa.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.