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Unbeaten Villanova off to best start since 1961-62 season

The Wildcats, who have coasted to an 11-0 record, are about to face some stiff competition, including undefeated Syracuse.

Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston battles for rebound against Rider. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston battles for rebound against Rider. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)Read moreRON CORTES / Staff

VILLANOVA has played 11 games. Villanova has won 11 games.

The last time that happened was the 1961-62 season. The team, coached by Jack Kraft, finished 21-7, but also finished one win shy of the Final Four.

Life is about to get more complicated for Jay Wright's team, but so far the Wildcats have been sensational. After beating a pretty solid Rider team 88-67, at the Pavilion on Saturday, the Wildcats have six wins by 20 or more points, including their last four.

It does not really seem to matter what players are on the floor for the 'Cats. Every last one of them is all in and plays all out.

Freshman Josh Hart (19 points) was the high scorer for a bench that contributed 40 points against Rider (5-5). No. 8 'Nova shot 50 percent overall, made 10 threes and shot 22-for-28 from the foul line. As well as the 'Cats play defense, Villanova is just about unbeatable with those kinds of offensive numbers.

There are just 10 remaining unbeatens. Two of them will play Saturday at the Carrier Dome when Villanova meets No. 2 Syracuse, an ode to the old Big East. Then, the Wildcats will come right back on New Year's Eve to play at Hinkle Field House against Butler as the new Big East begins with five games on the last day of 2013.

We already know a lot about this Villanova team. We will know even more by the first day of 2014.

Temple can't miss

Offense really has not been the issue for Fran Dunphy's Temple team. The Owls have inside weapons. They have shooters. They can score. The problem has been defense and the inability to close games.

It all worked at the Barclays Center against LIU as the Owls (5-5) cruised, 101-65. Dalton Pepper, finally getting a chance at regular minutes, has been good all season. He was really good against LIU, scoring 26 points and getting 10 rebounds while shooting 6-for-8 from the arc.

The Owls' starters all scored double figures as Temple shot 38-for-62 (61.3 percent) and 15-for-27 from the arc. Point guard Will Cummings had 23 and wing shooter Quenton DeCosey 19.

Temple had no worries about closing this game against LIU (4-7). It was over quickly.

Two great halves for Hawks

Combining its second half against Drexel (52-28) and its first half against Loyola in Baltimore (60-24), Saint Joseph has won 40 consecutive minutes, 112-52. That's ridiculous.

SJU (6-4) scored 21 straight points in the first half against Loyola and eased off the throttle in the second half, winning 88-77.

The Hawks got 20 points from senior Ronald Roberts and 31 (seven threes) from guards Chris Wilson and Langston Galloway. More importantly, they got bench production. Entering the game, SJU bench players had gotten just 20 percent of the minutes, 346th in Division I. Coach Phil Martelli has been looking for somebody to give him some production off the pine. He got it from Baltimore native Isaiah Miles, who had 17 points in just 12 minutes.