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Villanova needs freshmen to grow up quickly

Villanova coach Jay Wright understands that it takes time for freshmen to learn the collegiate game, particularly at the defensive end of the floor.

Villanova coach Jay Wright understands that it takes time for freshmen to learn the collegiate game, particularly at the defensive end of the floor.

But after Temple's Ramone Moore went off for 32 points - 23 in the second half - in Saturday's 78-67 Big Five victory for the Owls over the Wildcats at the Liacouras Center, Wright probably wishes they'd learn a lot faster.

"We're not that good defensively on the perimeter," Wright said after watching his team lose for the fourth time in its last five games. "That's an area we're struggling in right now. I think we just need to grow up. We need to get our young guys out there. They've got to play."

It's been a crash course for the five freshmen through nine games. In five of those contests, an opposing guard has scored more than 20 points against Villanova.

Three of the performances - Tyreek Duren of La Salle (24), Devon Saddler of Delaware (27), and Zach Rosen of Penn (21) - came in 'Nova victories. The last two games, both losses, have seen Missouri's Marcus Denmon pour in 28 points, and Moore topping him by four.

"I don't think it was as bad as it looked," Wright said of Saturday's game. "Ramone did a lot. I thought he was great. Denmon was great. We need a couple of our younger perimeter players to step up. I know the only way they're going to do it is to play. We're just going to have to go through this. We have to be patient. They've got to feel this."

Wright's biggest concern coming in was Temple's Juan Fernandez, who in the last two years had scored 32 and 20 points against the Wildcats. While he shot just 3 for 10 and scored six points against Villanova's Maalik Wayns, he got help from Moore and Khalif Wyatt, who had 11 of his 13 points in the opening half.

"You pick your poison," Wayns said. "They've got three great guards. So if Juan is having an off night or Khalif is having an off night, Ramone is stepping up. If Ramone is having an off night, Juan is stepping up. Tonight Ramone stepped it up for them."

While it was a difficult night for the freshmen playing defense against the Temple guards, scoring against them was no walk in the park, either. Darrun Hilliard, who came into the game averaging 8.1 points and shooting 52 percent from three-point range, went scoreless and came up empty on five tries from beyond the arc.

JayVaughn Pinkston had five points early, got into foul trouble, and wound up with eight points in 18 minutes.

The Wildcats also had problems getting the ball inside to 6-foot-10 center Mouphtaou Yarou. Yarou scored 14 points, but three of his six field goals were from 12, 15, and 17 feet.

"You've got to understand, when you go on the road, you've got to stick together," Wright said. "We got away from going inside. It's part of playing together."

So they'll just keep working.

"They're going to get better," Wayns said. "We're 5-4 right now. But I think they're going to get a lot better. I've got a lot of confidence in them. I know they're going to get better. I've got total, 100-percent confidence in my teammates."