More Early Season Big 5 Action: 'Nova Hosts La Salle

More Early Season Big 5 Action: 'Nova Hosts La Salle

Tyreek Duren versus Maalik Wayns? Okay, I mean, I guess I'll watch.

After seeing Temple's Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore go head to head (to head?) with Penn's Zack Rosen last evening, Big 5 fans will be treated to their second uber-talented guard on guard match up in as many nights.

The Villanova University Wildcats are set to host the La Salle University Explorers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from inside the Ski Lodge on the campus of Villanova (ESPN 3 / 950 AM / 990 AM).

Matchup:
The big news for the Explorers is that they will be without junior transfer Ramon Galloway, who suffered a concussion in the team's win over 79-53 win over Lafayette last Friday night. Though a newcomer, Galloway is expected to bring some veteran leadership to a program now without Aaric Murray, Jerrell Williams, Reuben Gillandeaux and (even) Cole Stefan, who transferred to Minnesota after only one year with the program. Surely, a concussion won't stop the former South Carolina Gamecock from attempting to fill that role for the rest of the season, but it will keep him out of tonight's matchup with Villanova.

For the 'Cats, they'll be glad to be taking this series back to the friendly confines of their own Pavillion. Villanova has, for whatever reason, struggled with the Explorers in recent years. Though the Big 5 isn't what it "once was" in the eyes of many, differences in talent seems to drastically diminish when it comes to these still important intra-city rivalries. Last year, the Wildcats just barely escaped the Tom Gola Arena with an 84-81 win. As they tend to be at their best on their own campus, it should be an added leg up for the 'Cats, who are already heavily favored—in some cases by double digits. That said, La Salle actually leads the series 5-4 in games played at the Pavillion.

Players to Watch:
Yes, yes, all eyes will be on Duren and Wayns, but if I just listed the obvious, this section would be boring. Anyway...

Lost in the coverage surrounding his back court partner, Dominic Cheek racked up a game-high 27 points against Monmouth last Friday night. Going 9-15 from the field and 5-8 from behind the arc, Cheek would also pull down 6 rebounds and dish out 2 assists, while only surrendering the ball twice. On the inside, Mouphataou Yarou contributed with 24 of his own and would register 10 rebounds to finish with what 'Nova fans hope will be the first of many double-doubles this season. Considering La Salle's remarkable lack of height, the big man could be on his way to another big night.

For La Salle, guards Earl Pettis, Taylor Dunn and Sam Mills will need to help shoulder some of the load from Duren. Of the three—and really four if you count freshman forward D.J. Peterson—who all played substantial minutes against Lafayette, only the senior Pettis has a standing higher than that of a sophomore.

Relevant History:
--All-time Series: Villanova leads 34-26.
--At the Pavillion: La Salle leads 5-4
--Wright versus La Salle: 9-1
--Giannini versus Villanova: 0-7
--Last Meeting: The Wildcats defeated the Explorers by a final score of 84-81 (12/12/10, Tom Gola Arena). La Salle's Jerrell Williams posted a game-high 20, while Maalik Wayns lead the way for Villanova with 19.

See you post-game.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).