Three times in the past four seasons, Villanova has finished unbeaten in Philadelphia’s Big 5 series.
If the third-ranked Wildcats can survive this season’s final—and arguably toughest—intracity matchup Sunday at Temple, they’ll match their best start since 2005-06.
Since its previous loss to the Owls on Dec. 4, 2004, Villanova (9-0) has won 21 of 22 in the series, which also includes games against La Salle, St. Joseph’s and Penn.
With a near perfect free-throw shooting performance in the second half, the Wildcats added to their victory total by beating St. Joseph’s 97-89 on Wednesday night.
Villanova made 30 of 31 attempts, including 29 in a row, over the final 20 minutes with some coming in a pivotal 16-7 run.
“That was big,” coach Jay Wright said. “We have good shooters. In the second half, every one was big.”
Scottie Reynolds was 12 of 14 from the line en route to a team-leading 22 points, his second 20-point performance in as many games. After a slow start, Reynolds has averaged 19.2 points over the past five games to take over the team scoring lead (16.0 ppg).
The senior guard, however, had one of his worst performances last season against the Owls (7-2).
Reynolds finished with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting in a 62-45 home victory as Corey Fisher led the Wildcats with 23 points off the bench.
In his only trip to face Temple, Reynolds scored 27 points in a 101-93 win on Dec. 9, 2007. Now, one of the nation’s best offenses (84.0 ppg) will face one of the best defenses at the Liacouras Center.
The Owls have yielded an average of 52.9 points and allowed 42 in the last two of their three straight victories. They’ve also let opponents shoot just 37.0 percent and 22.9 percent from 3-point range this season.
Temple has held seven of its nine opponents to fewer than 57 points, but has averaged just 61.6 points.
The three Owls players averaging in double figures, and they’re the only ones to score more than 6.0 points per game. Senior guard Ryan Brooks has led the way (13.7 points), but was held to nine in Tuesday’s 64-42 victory at Miami of Ohio.
Junior forward Lavoy Allen has scored 13.4 points and grabbed a team-best 9.4 rebounds per game, and sophomore guard Juan Fernandez has added 10.6 points per game.
Villanova’s four straight wins over Temple has allowed it to take a 43-40 series lead. The Owls own a 13-8 advantage at home, but are 10-33 against AP Top 25 teams since 2000-01, including 0-3 when the Wildcats are ranked.
Temple has dropped 11 in a row to top-five schools since a 77-69 victory at top-ranked Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 2000.