PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Villanova coach Jay Wright grew up on a steady diet of Big 5 games and considers himself both a modern-day guardian and historian of the famed city series.
So Wright talks from experience when he tells his Wildcats only the wild and unpredictable happen in Big 5 games.
“Expect anything,” he said.
Well, anything but a Wildcats’ loss because no team in the 52-year history of the Big 5 has ever been on a winning streak like Villanova.
Scottie Reynolds scored 27 points and the 25th-ranked Wildcats made it a record 13 straight victories against their city series rivals with a 101-93 win over Temple on Sunday night.
“It’s an honor, a great honor,” Wright said.
Antonio Pena and Shane Clark both scored 17 points for the Wildcats (7-1). Villanova, which rallied from a 21-point deficit with 8:50 left to beat LSU on Thursday night, needed a second-half surge to take control against the Owls.
The Owls (4-5) were the last Big 5 team to beat Villanova back on Dec. 4, 2004 at the Palestra and they had one of their largest home crowds in recent memory supporting them in a celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Liacouras Center.
Dionte Christmas had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Mark Tyndale scored 24 points, and Ryan Brooks had 22 for the Owls.
The Owls allowed 100 points for only the sixth time in team history and first since against Wake Forest in 1993.
Villanova was on its way to a rout until Brooks hit two 3-pointers and Tyndale hit one late to rally the Owls from 24 down to within 10 with 2:25 left and make the final score a bit more respectable.
“We were just too far behind to come back,” Tyndale said. “We tried our best, but they just had a great lead.”
The Wildcats led by five points early in the second half when they took off on a 21-8 run that blew the game open. Reynolds got the Wildcats going with a 3-pointer, then made a quick steal and a layup that pushed Villanova’s lead to 57-47.
The Wildcats were unselfish during the run, passing the ball around until they found someone with an open look. Once the Wildcats took the shot, they usually made it. They made eight of their first 10 attempts and 12 of 19 in the second half.
Reynolds capped the run with another 3-pointer. Pena hit a 3 a short time later and Reggie Reading followed with a putback off a turnover for an 80-57 lead with 6:54 remaining.
“Reynolds was spectacular in the second half,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “When they needed a big basket he got it or was responsible for it.”
Not since Penn won 12 straight from 1972-75 has any city school dominated its opponents like Villanova. La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Penn are the other three schools that make up the city series that has deeper roots and emotional ties than most other true major conferences.
“Growing up watching those Penn teams, I loved those teams,” Wright said. “To be mentioned with them is awesome.”
The Wildcats can finish the season on a 15-game winning streak against the Big 5 if they beat La Salle on Dec. 29 and Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 4.
“I’m kind of starting to understand it and value it and appreciate it a lot more,” said Reynolds, who was 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
Of course, the Wildcats haven’t been perfect against city schools over that the last three years. They lost at home last season to Drexel, long the outsider on Philadelphia’s hoop scene.
Not even Phillies shortstop and NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, watching from a second row seat, would have been bold enough to predict Temple was the team to beat in this one.
The Owls were fired up from the start and consecutive 3s from Luis Guzman and Christmas gave them a quick 14-8 lead. When Brooks connected on a 3 in front of the Villanova bench for a 39-37 lead late in the first half, the crowd erupted like the days when John Chaney was on the bench.
Corey Stokes hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to send Villanova into halftime with a 42-39 lead.
“They’ve got it going on now,” Dunphy said.