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Once again, Villanova a leading force in Big East

Just like last season, the Wildcats enter February in first place in the conference.

Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright tosses the basketball to game officials. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright tosses the basketball to game officials. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

THE BIG EAST is clearly better this season than last and, as February begins, Villanova finds itself in the same position when last February began - in first. The Wildcats (19-2, 6-2 Big East) parlayed a dominant second half at DePaul to a 68-55 win. The point total might not seem all that impressive until you realize it was a low-possession game where points were at a premium.

Junior point guard Ryan Arcidiacono had a team-high 18 points for the 'Cats. He has made 18 of 33 threes in the last seven games and, as always, his most important stat is the team's record. JayVaughn Pinkston attempted 10 free throws and made them all on the way to 14 points.

If the Wildcats are still in first place in 2 weeks, it is going to be very hard to catch them. Their toughest stretch of the season is upon them. They will be heavily favored to beat Marquette on Wednesday, but then it is Georgetown at home Saturday before games at Providence and Butler next week.

Owls' 'D' dominates

By halftime, it was a pretty good imitation of a football game at Temple, as the Owls led Tulane, 28-8. Yes, that would be 8 as Tulane went 3-for-24 from the field.

Temple (15-7, 6-3 American) eventually won it, 55-37. Tulane (13-9, 4-6) shot 14-for-54 (26 percent), had nine of its shots blocked and scored just .6 points per possession. Temple got 17 points from Quenton DeCosey and 13 points, six rebounds and six assists from point guard Will Cummings.

La Salle wins

La Salle (12-9, 4-4 Atlantic 10) got 44 points from its wings, Jordan Price (24) and Cleon Roberts (20), and won 66-56 at St. Bonaventure (11-8, 4-4).

Senior big man Steve Zack had another classic Zack game - 0 points, 14 rebounds, his 10th double-digit rebound game of the season. Explorers point guard Khalid Lewis is one of the city's best on-ball defenders and helped lock up high-scoring Marcus Posley. The Ball State transfer had just four points.

Bembry goes off again

The record might not show it, but Saint Joseph's is a far better team in February than it was in November. The main reason? Well, sophomore DeAndre' Bembry is going absolutely off.

The Hawks (9-11, 3-5 A-10) trailed hot Davidson, 41-28, at the half at Hagan Arena. Then, they put up 47 in the second half and won, 75-70. Bembry had another ridiculous line - 21 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists. In his last five games, he has scored 118 points, along with 40 rebounds, 18 assists and 13 steals.

Bembry got plenty of help from Aaron Brown (20 points), making his first start in place of James Demery who was much better off the bench, shooting 4-for-7 after going 5-for-26 in his previous four games. The Hawks won despite Davidson (14-5, 5-3) making 14 threes.

Drexel wins again

Drexel had its best offensive game of the season and finished off an amazing week with an 85-76 win over North Carolina Wilmington at the DAC. After beating Northeastern on Wednesday, the Dragons (7-14, 5-5 CAA) took out two of three league teams battling for first over the space of 72 hours.

Damion Lee had 32 points and 13 rebounds for Drexel. He had 33 on Wednesday and has scored 113 in his last four games. He got plenty of help against UNCW (12-9, 7-3) as the Dragons got 32 bench points, including 17 from Sammy Mojica. The offensively challenged Dragons scored 1.2 points per possession and shot 60.4 percent.

Penn buried

The city had a rare chance at a 6-0 Saturday, but Penn was never in its game against Harvard at the Palestra, losing 63-38. The Quakers (6-11, 1-2 Ivy) had more turnovers (14) than baskets (13) and scored just .64 ppp. Penn may be a bit better than last season, but you would not know it by Harvard (13-5, 3-1). Last season, it was 80-50 and 83-63 in the two games. They split the difference in this game.