Villanova coach Jay Wright congratulates La Salle

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Jay Wright argues an officials call during the second half an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Philadelphia. Villanova won 67-57. (Michael Perez/AP)

While talking about his team Thursday during his NCAA press conference in Kansas City, Mo., Villanova coach Jay Wright made a point of warmly recognizing La Salle for its first-round victory over Boise State.

The Explorers defeated the Broncos, 80-71, Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, earning them a trip to Kansas City for a second-round game against fourth-seeded Kansas State in the West Regional on Friday.

Wright said he watched the early and late stages of the game on television and noted “they really looked good.” He said he and La Salle coach John Giannini texted each other after the game.

“It’s really cool to have them here,” Wright said. “In Philadelphia, we take great pride in Philadelphia basketball. When we’re playing each other, we want to beat each other bad. But anything else, we work together. We have Coaches vs. Cancer, we’re friends throughout the year, and we like to see each other do well.

“We really believe if the Big Five schools are doing well, kids in Philadelphia are going to stay home to play there. Games are going to be important, and Philadelphia basketball is going to be important. But they played great (Wednesday) night. They look like a team that can win some games in this tournament.”

The Wildcats, seeded ninth, are in the South Region where they will take on No. 8 North Carolina on Friday night. They practiced Thursday morning at Missouri-Kansas City and then conducted a public one-hour workout in the afternoon at the Sprint Center.

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