Dick Jerardi: College basketball wrap: It's Penn at the wire

Langston Galloway covers Zack Rosen.
Langston Galloway covers Zack Rosen. (RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: January 23, 2012

ACROSS THE CITY

WILDEST GAME:

The long day at the Palestra ended with Penn beating Saint Joseph's, 84-80. The game looked over when Penn, which never trailed, led 62-39 with 12 minutes left. Less than 8 minutes later, it was 68-64. Penn (10-9, 1-3 Big 5) held on to the finish line. St. Joe's (12-8, 1-1) simply got too far behind.

The teams combined to shoot 55-for-105 and 20-for-45 from the arc. Love those Palestra rims.

BEST PERFORMANCE:

SJU sophomore Langston Galloway (career-best 32 points) was 10-for-14, 6-for-9 from the arc and 6-for-6 from the line. He hit three treys in the final 2 minutes as the Hawks made a final charge.

NEXT-BEST PERFORMANCE:

Penn senior Tyler Bernardini (24 points) won his final Big 5 game while shooting 10-for-14.

What's next

Penn has 12 Ivy games, starting a week from tonight at home against Princeton. SJU has just 10 Atlantic 10 games from here to the wire and is searching for that December magic.

OWLS DO IT AGAIN:

Temple is now the only team that can finish unbeaten in the City Series. If the Owls are going to do it, they will have to win at La Salle and at St. Joe's. Won't be easy, but this team will not beat itself.

In the opener of the Palestra day/night doubleheader against Maryland, the Owls got a nice lead at the start of the second half, let Maryland get within a point and then surged again to win, 73-60.

Khalif Wyatt and Ramone Moore each had 20 points for Temple (13-5). The Owls led for the game's final 27 minutes and had 20 assists on their 27 field goals.

Maryland (12-6) is getting better, but was no match for the savvy of Temple's old-school guards.

Very good news for the Owls down the stretch is that Micheal Eric got back on the court. He played just 7 minutes, but it is about February and March for the Owls' big man.

THE CROWDS:

There were 8,722 in the house at 11 a.m. when Temple's game with Maryland began and another 8,722 in the house when the Penn-SJU game ended at 9, a testament to the city's love affair with college hoops and the best building in the sport.

PLAYING LIGHTS OUT:

That would be Drexel. After beating Northeastern at the DAC, the Dragons (14-5, 6-2 Colonial) have won six straight and 12 of 13.

Drexel shot a season-best overall (60 percent) and from the arc (64.3 percent). Junior Derrick Thomas (20 points) was 5-for-5 from the arc. Senior Samme Givens (19) and freshman Damion Lee (17) were part of a diverse offense.

Northeastern (9-9, 5-3) had been playing well until they had to deal with the Dragons.

Drexel is in the middle of a very difficult part of its schedule, with a game at William & Mary tonight and home on Wednesday against Georgia State, the only team to beat the Dragons in the last 13 games.

WINNING AT HOME:

After beating hapless Rhode Island at Gola Arena, 80-66, La Salle (14-6, 3-2 A-10) is now 10-0 at home this season. All five La Salle starters scored in double figures, including the Catholic/Pub trifecta of Tyreek Duren (21 points), Earl Pettis (19), both Neumann-Goretti, and improving freshman big man Jerrell Wright (17), from Dobbins Tech.

La Salle shot 30-for-53 (56.6 percent) and had 19 assists URI (3-17, 0-5) is having an absolute nightmare of a season.

PLAYING BETTER:

Nobody on the Main Line may want to hear this, but Villanova has played reasonably well in every game in 2012, with the exception of that South Florida mess.

The Wildcats (10-10, 3-5 Big East) trailed by 10 points with 7 minutes left at St. John's, got it into overtime and won, 79-76.

Maalik Wayns had 28 for the 'Cats. He now has scored 92 points in his last three games after that 0-fer against Syracuse. Really good players overcome really bad performances. Wayns has done that in style.

Not beautiful

St. John's (8-11, 2-6) and 'Nova combined to commit 44 turnovers and shoot 29-for-51 (56.9 percent) from the foul line.

The 'Cats were 4-for-22 from the arc in regulation and 2-for-2 in OT. Dominic Cheek had 20 for Villanova.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

SMOOTHEST SHOT:

Florida State's Michael Snaer gathered himself and launched the game-winner against Duke with 0.3 seconds left. It was so obviously good that one of his teammates was hugging him on the court as the ball went through the hoop. No, Coach K did not ask for a technical because six players were on his floor.

By the way, Florida State lost to Harvard and Princeton before beating North Carolina and Duke in a week.

Duke is still fun to watch, but its defense is not going to be good enough for a deep NCAA run.

Does not miss

Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe had a career-best 27 points against Baylor. He was 11-for-14 from the field and is shooting 77.2 percent.

Hard to believe

Georgetown made 12 baskets, three treys, in its win over Rutgers.

What does it mean?

Fab Melo is such a big part of the Syracuse defense that it was not a complete shock that Notre Dame was able to exploit the zone. The surprise was that the 'Cuse offense looked so lost. Perhaps it all means that there are no great college teams again.

JERARDI'S TOP 15:

1. Kentucky (19-1): Blocked nine more shots, made its foul shots late and held on to beat Alabama, 77-71, its 47th straight win at Rupp

2. Syracuse (20-1): No Fab Melo. No offense, no defense. No win. Lost, 67-58, at Notre Dame, which played brilliantly.

3. Missouri (18-1): Went to Baylor and, in a game that featured zero defense, had just enough offense to win, 89-88.

4. Murray State (20-0): Won NCAA-best ninth road game, vs. SIU-Edwardsville, 82-65. Last of the unbeatens is absolutely for real. Love watching this team.

5. Ohio State (17-3): Won easily at Nebraska, 79-45. No Husker scored in double figures in blowout.

6. Baylor (17-2): Had been holding teams to 37.2 percent shooting. Kansas and Mizzou shot 56 percent in a lost week for the Bears.

7. Kansas (16-3): Held Texas to 34.4 percent shooting (just 13-for-42 on two-point shots) and won in Austin, 69-66.

8. Duke (16-3): Florida State scored 50 and shot 67 percent in the second half and then got a buzzer-beating three to win at Cameron, 76-73, ending the Devils' home winning streak at 45.

9.Michigan State (16-4): Blew away travel-hindered Purdue, 83-58. Shot 60 percent from the field and held Purdue to 29 percent.

10. North Carolina (16-3): Off the weekend. Still waiting for the Tar Heels to get on a run. Lost Dexter Strickland for the season after ACL injury.

11. San Diego State (17-2): Beat Air Force, 57-44. Aztecs have won 10 straight. Given what they lost from last year, this season is amazing.

12. UNLV (18-3): Shot 51.7 percent in 80-63 win over New Mexico. This team will be a very difficult matchup in the NCAA.

13. Georgetown (16-3): Shot just 29.3 percent in 52-50 win over Rutgers. No doubt, Knights coach Mike Rice was thrilled the Hoyas shot 36 free throws to his team's seven.

14. Creighton (18-2): Blew away Indiana State, 75-49, before a rather nice crowd of 17,411 in Omaha. Few teams run better offense than the Bluejays.

15. Virginia (15-3):Dropped 47-45 classic to Virginia Tech last night.

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