Good things come in threes, and apparently so do bad things. They certainly do in regard to Temple playing Villanova when Villanova is ranked No.1.
It doesn’t matter if they play them at the Liacouras Center, Pavilion or the Palestra, Temple just can’t seem to shake this new era of Wildcats. Temple has dropped five straight matchups against Villanova. In their third consecutive effort to upset a top Nova team, the Owls could not result in an 87-67 loss.
Temple could not tame two Wildcats, in particular, Jalen Brunson and Omari Spellman. Brunson always seems to play his basketball against the Owls. He notched a new career high of 31 points, going 11-16 from the field and 6-10 from behind the arc. Brunson also grabbed 6 rebound and dished out 5 assists, while accumulating zero turnovers. However, Brunson was far more dominant in the first half, 22 of his of 31 coming from the first 20 minutes of play. When Brunson [hardly] dropped off, Omari Spellman picked it up for the Wildcats. Spellman went 11-14 from the field and 4-7 from the three. He also grabbed 8 boards. It should not be forgotten that the Wildcats’ leading scorer was irrelevant on the court. Mikal Bridges, who averages just over 18 ppg, only added 7 points to the offense.
While Brunson and Spellman were practically unstoppable, Quinton Rose did everything in his power to give the two Wildcats a response on the scoreboard. Rose also earned a new career high of 27 points. He went 9-12 from the field and 5-6 from behind the arc. He also ignited a 13-0 run in the first half by draining back-back-back 3s in under 70 seconds to cut the Villanova lead to 7.
Rose did not have much help on the floor. Shizz Alston only had 10 points and went 0-4 from deep. While Brunson was dishing assists all night with zero turnovers, Alston was doing the opposite. He had two turnovers and zero assists. Temple as a unit had 8 assists and 11 turnovers. Villanova also had 11 turnovers, but they had 19 assists.
Villanova was essentially without Bridges and Temple was essentially without Obi Enechionyia. Despite having 7 rebounds, he did not contribute much to the Owls’ effort to upset the No.1 team in the nation. He was 1-7 from the field, 0-2 from behind the arc, 1-4 from the foul line and had 3 personal fouls. Overall accounting for only 3 points of offense.
Villanova truly showed why they are the top team in the country and they made it look easy. They shot 60% from the field and 46% from deep while Temple shot 47% from the field and just 36.8% from behind the arc. Villanova’s ability to convert on fastbreaks put the game out of reach for the Owls. They outscored Temple 21-9 on fastbreak points, accounting for 12 of their 20 points over the Owls.
The Owls are back in action Saturday, December 16th, at 5:00 o’clock at the Liacouras Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.