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Brunson leads No 4 Villanova to rout of Penn

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — The venue, and its deafening noise, was different, but the result was the same for Villanova. The fourth-ranked Wildcats rolled past yet another Philadelphia opponent.

Jalen Brunson had 17 points to lead five players in double figures as Villanova routed Penn 90-62 on Wednesday night.

Omari Spellman, Mikal Bridges and Phil Bridges added 14 points apiece and Donte DiVincenzo scored 12 for the Wildcats (7-0), who remained undefeated while winning their 19th in a row against Philadelphia Big 5 rivals.

“I don’t like thinking about it,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the streak. “We know if you don’t bring it, you’re going to get beat. We never lose respect for those teams.”

The Big 5 also includes Temple, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.

“They have a degree of confidence in themselves and each other,” Penn coach Steve Donahue said. “All of us (Big 5 coaches) are motivated to reach the bar Jay has set. I do feel we want to end that streak.”

The famed Philadelphia City Series started in 1956, but Wednesday’s game was the first to be played at Jake Nevin Field House. It became the 10th venue for a Big 5 contest, most of which have been held at The Palestra.

A bandbox gym on Villanova’s campus that seats 2,220, Nevin — known as the “Cat House” in its heyday — last hosted a Wildcats game on Jan. 4, 1986. Villanova is playing most of its home games this season at Wells Fargo Center, home court of the 76ers, while its regular on-campus arena gets a makeover.

It was noticeable immediately that with fans practically right on top of the court and a building well-built for acoustics, that it was going to be noisy — really noisy.

“It was a wild atmosphere,” Wright said. “You can’t hear anything. It’s a difficult place to play for everybody, including the home team.”

Brunson gave up on trying to listen to Wright calling plays.

“I tried reading his lips,” Brunson said.

And Spellman said he had to ask Bridges “50 times” the play.

Villanova shot an efficient 57 percent in the opening half to take a 46-28 lead. Nine Wildcats scored in the opening 20 minutes, led by Spellman’s 10 points.

The Wildcats were in total control after halftime and the advantage reached as much as 74-47 on Bridges’ fastbreak dunk with 8:38 remaining.

Villanova finished shooting 57 percent from the field, including 50 percent from beyond the arc.

AJ Brodeur paced Penn with 15 points and Darnell Foreman had 13 for the Quakers (5-4).

Donahue wasn’t displeased with Penn’s effort, instead crediting the Wildcats for their typically strong performance.

“They’re such a good, disciplined, tough team,” he said. “There’s never a team I’ve played against that’s smarter, tougher and more unselfish.”

HONORS ALL AROUND

Villanova also honored the late Rollie Massimino as 21 members of the former coach’s family were on hand.

Also introduced to the crowd were many former Wildcats who played at Nevin Field House.

NOVEMBER REIGN

The Wildcats have won 27 straight games in November.

PENN DOMINANCE

The victory was Villanova’s 15th straight against Penn.

MEAL TICKETS NEEDED

A mistake by Wright with the pregame schedule forced the Wildcats to go to the school’s cafeteria for their pregame meal rather than in their regular, private location.

BIG PICTURE

Penn: The Quakers are tuning up for the start of the Ivy League season, which begins for them Jan. 5 against archrival Princeton.

Villanova: The Wildcats will look to continue their dominance of the Philadelphia rivals on Saturday at Saint Joseph’s. They’ll host La Salle at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 10 and finish the Big 5 at Temple on Dec. 13.

UP NEXT

Penn: At Howard on Monday night.

Villanova: At Saint Joseph’s on Saturday night.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Providence PF Emmitt Holt to take leave of absence

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Considered by many to be one of the teams capable of challenging Villanova in the Big East, Providence has won five of its first six games without a key member of the rotation. Senior power forward Emmitt Holt has been out of the lineup due to an abdominal injury that required surgery, and a timetable for his return had yet to be finalized.

On Wednesday it was announced that Holt is taking a leave of absence from school that will run until the end of the semester, with the expectation being that he will rejoin the team in January. However, he will not play as it was also announced that Holt will sit out this season as a medical redshirt with the goal being for him to return to the Providence lineup next season.

“Emmitt is one of our team’s most consistent and experienced players, but more importantly, he is an outstanding person,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said in the release. “We look forward to his return.”

In his first season at Providence, Holt averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game, starting 28 of the 32 games in which he played. Holt began his career at Indiana, playing one season before being dismissed from the program. He would then play a season at Indian Hills CC before signing with the Providence program in April 2016.

Holt was expected to be a key part of the Providence front court rotation, along with fellow senior Rodney Bullock and underclassmen Alpha Diallo, Kalif Young and Nate Watson.

That quartet has performed well thus far, but the loss of Holt leaves the Friars short an option to deal with possible issues such as foul trouble or injury. Providence also has 7-foot freshman Dajour Dickens, who after appearing in three of the team’s first four games did not see action against either Belmont or Boston College.

Report: 2017 Gavitt Games schedule

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The schedule for the 2017 Gavitt Games was reported on Saturday afternoon.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and FanRag Sports released the schedule for the eight-game series.

  • Nov. 13th: Minnesota at Providence
  • Nov. 14th: Purdue at Marquette
  • Nov. 15th: Butler at Maryland; Creighton at Northwestern; Indiana at Seton Hall
  • Nov. 16th: Xavier at Wisconsin, Nebraska at St. John’s
  • Nov. 17th: DePaul at Illinois

With Butler taking on Maryland, it’s fair to question whether the Terrapins renewed rivalry with Georgetown has ended after only two seasons. The Gavitt Games helped restore an annual matchup between the two programs. The two sides had only played once since 1994. The Gavitt Games set up a home-and-home series for 2015 and 2016. Maryland defeated Georgetown in both meetings.

The event’s final game is an in-state clash between Illinois and DePaul. Those two schools are separated by 140 miles but have not played each other since 1957.

Villanova’s Jenkins day-to-day with right knee sprain

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No. 17 Villanova’s win over Delaware Tuesday night came with a price, as junior forward Kris Jenkins injured his right knee during the first half of the 78-48 victory. Wednesday afternoon the school announced that an MRI as revealed that Jenkins suffered a sprain in the knee, and his status is day-to-day.

Jenkins is averaging 10.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game on the season, and he’s emerged as a key player alongside senior Daniel Ochefu in the Villanova front court.

The Wildcats won’t play again until December 28 against Big Five rival Penn, but two days after that they open Big East play against No. 6 Xavier. The Musketeers don’t lack for depth in the front court, led by Jalen Reynolds and James Farr, so having a healthy Jenkins for that game is of high importance.

“We’re relieved and thrilled for Kris that this is not as serious as we feared it might be last night,” Wright said in the release. “Kris has worked extremely hard and is an important part of our front court. Our Team Physician, Dr. Mike Duncan, and Head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Pierce, will continue to evaluate Kris’ progress as we look forward to a busy week when we return from Christmas break.”

Big East announces program geared towards helping freshmen transition to college

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In professional sports the rookie orientation program has been around for quite some time, with the governing bodies doing what they can to help their franchises’ newest additions with the transition to the pro level. Topics such as off-field behavior, money management and the history of the league are discussed, and in most instances the experience is a positive one for those who attend.

And while college athletic departments have orientation programs for their new student-athletes, no conference has put together such a program. That changed Tuesday, as the Big East announced that it will be holding a two-day “Freshman Fundamentals” program for its men’s basketball freshmen. The program will be held in New York City September 12-13, with panels consisting of former Big East players and workshops on media training and personal branding on the docket.

Big East Senior Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball Stu Jackson, who announced the beginning of the program, worked in the NBA in various capacities for 13 years before joining the Big East in 2014.This program seems to be along the lines of the NBA’s rookie orientation program, where its’ newest additions spend a couple days learning about the various aspects of being a professional.

This program could be a good one, especially when it comes to helping the freshmen understand not just the on-court aspects of the game but some off-court issues they’ll be faced with as well. While teams themselves do what they can to aid in the transition, hearing those lessons from a different voice (especially from former players) can have just as much of an impact on freshmen, if not more.

Former UMass guard Derrick Gordon headed to Seton Hall for final season

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Derrick Gordon, who began his playing career at Western Kentucky and then transferred to UMass, announced on Sunday that he’s decided to spend that year at Seton Hall where he’ll be eligible to play immediately. As a redshirt junior the 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in 2014-15, making the decision to leave the program shortly thereafter.

Gordon joins former Fresno State forward Braeden Anderson as transfers who will be eligible immediately for Kevin Willard’s team, with Anderson having two seasons of eligibility remaining. Gordon can certainly help the Pirates on both ends of the floor, as Seton Hall has to account for the loss of two key perimeter contributors in Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina (who left the team in January).

Among the returnees on the perimeter are sophomores Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington, and they add two more players in freshman Dalton Soffer and former Kansas State point guard Jevon Thomas (he’ll sit out this season).

Gordon, who last spring became the first openly gay athlete in Division I college basketball, joins the Seton Hall program at an interesting time for the athletic department. Friday morning Rev. Warren Hall announced via Twitter that he’d been fired as the director of the school’s campus ministry for supporting the “NOH8” campaign on his Facebook page.

The “NOH8” campaign began as a silent protest of California passing a proposition that amended that state’s constitution to ban gay marriage in 2008.

Rev. Hall also served as the team chaplain for many of Seton Hall’s, a Catholic institution, athletic teams. According to the Washington Post, it is the Archdiocese of Newark that handles decisions regarding the Director of Campus Ministry position and not Seton Hall.