Jalen Brunson scored 26 points and Josh Hart had 21 to help No. 1 Villanova hold off La Salle, 89-79, on Tuesday night at the Palestra in Philadelphia.
The Wildcats (9-0) failed to dominate in their first game of the season as the top-ranked team in the country. The national champions led La Salle (4-3) by only single digits late in the game and played little like the team that had steamrolled to the top.
Coach Jay Wright had worried that Villanova’s ascension to No. 1 would give La Salle a little more incentive and the Explorers nearly came through.
A three-point basket by Jordan Pirce pulled La Salle to within 77-73 with 1 minute 19 seconds remaining but...