The alleged crowd of 12,058 had come to see history, and not just from Villanova. Buchanan made his first eight free throws this season, missed one at Duke on Nov. 17 and hadn't missed since. After missing a couple in the First Union Center early last season, he didn't miss for more than two months. That streak ended at 45. This streak was at 63, one shy of the Division I record.
Buchanan hadn't been fouled all game. Then, with 'Nova in the double bonus, he got fouled, and the place, a tomb all evening, erupted.
Buchanan did what he always does. He walked calmly to the foul line. He looked at the floor and bounced the ball three times. Then, he looked up. Swish. He did it again. Swish.
The celebration was quick and mostly in the stands. Buchanan smiled briefly and ran back on defense.
The old record was held by a somewhat less-prominent Joe D. - Joe Dykstra, of Western Illinois.
The leading scorer in the history of Leatherneck basketball with 2,248 points, Dykstra set the mark in 1981-82. The old record was 60, set 15 years earlier.
Dykstra is doing well for himself. He lives in the Los Angeles area and owns shopping centers. Speaking on his cell phone last week, he said he was not surprised the record had lasted this long.
"The way guys shoot free throws anymore, I thought it might hold for a long time," Dykstra said. "Nobody seems to be very serious about making their foul shots anymore."
Buchanan is serious about it.
"I just went up there and did the same thing I do every single night," Buchanan said. "Three bounces, just go up there and shoot."
Out in the distance is Paul Cluxton's all-division record set in 1996-97, when he shot 94 free throws for Division II Northern Kentucky and made them all.
"In college, every single point counts, so when I go to the free throw line, I've got to make them count," Buchanan said.
Dykstra got it just right when he said, "making your free throws is a sign of respect for the game."
What Buchanan did overshadowed the rest of it, but Villanova, a team that had lost six of eight, really needed to beat somebody. That the win resulted in a 4-0 Big 5 season just made it that much nicer.
"It's been a bit of a struggle lately, which has been well-documented," Lappas said. "We got a special win tonight. It wasn't just a win. . .When you go 4-0 in the Big 5. . .I told these kids before the game there have some tremendous teams in the Big 5 and some tremendous teams in Villanova history over the last 45 years, and to be only the fourth team in Villanova history to do it is an honor and a privilege."
Villanova also went Big 5 perfect in 1962 and 1967.
The Wildcats had their usual 18 turnovers, but they were not steals that became layups. Villanova (13-8) shot 50.9 percent and allowed Penn (7-12, 0-4 Big 5) to shoot just 35.1 percent. 'Nova won the "battle" of the boards, 43-27. The 'Cats finally got some long-range shooting, especially from Jermaine Medley (5-for-6 from the arc). He had his career high with 111/2 minutes left in the game and finished with 22 points.
"It was fun playing here," Medley said. "Sometimes tonight I felt like Iverson."
Michael Bradley felt like Michael Bradley. He missed his usual two shots from the field. He had 21 points and nine rebounds. Ricky Wright had 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Penn has 10 Ivy League games to play. They will all matter. This effort will be little noted nor long remembered. Still, Penn coach Fran Dunphy was not unhappy he was in the house to see history.
"It's pretty remarkable," Dunphy said. "It's not like those two were clangers. They went dead in the hoop, which was really impressive.
"When he made the first one and everybody went crazy, I'm saying, 'Tying, that's not good enough for me. I want him to make it and finish it and break this record.' I think that's great. . . I'll remember that, I really will. It's a great accomplishment. It's pretty remarkable when you think about it."
As for his team, which was never in the game at any point, Dunphy said, "I'm not sure who we are. That's our biggest problem. We're still searching for who it is that we are."
Villanova, meanwhile, has six Big East games to find out who it is.
These Wildcats have a chance to make some statistical history. Bradley is easily leading the nation in field goal percentage. Buchanan is obviously well ahead in free throw percentage. No school has ever had the national leaders in those two categories during the same season.
What Villanova does not want is to make some dubious history. Only four teams have ever gone 4-0 in the Big 5 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. They were St. Joseph's (1980), La Salle (1969), Villanova (1967) and St. Joe's (1956). La Salle was on probation. The tournament was much smaller in the 1950s and '60s.
Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay once said he would rather win the Big 5 title than the national title. It was like that when Ramsay was at St. Joe's. It's not like that anymore. It's about the tournament now and, at the moment, Villanova is on the outside looking in. These Wildcats need to do more, and they know it.
"This [record] would be better if we had a better record," Buchanan said. "I just want to put this behind me, keep on playing games and hopefully get to the NCAA Tournament."