Temple begins season 5-0 for first time in 25 years

Posted: December 03, 2012

COMPARING TEAMS from different eras is a fun exercise, but more interesting when you actually look beyond the records. After beating Wagner, 70-62, at the Liacouras Center Saturday, Temple is 5-0 for the first time since 1987-88. The comparisons end there and nobody knows that better than Owls coach Fran Dunphy.

He was a La Salle assistant a quarter century ago when John Chaney's greatest team became the first of just two Big 5 teams to get to No. 1. Showing just how much the game has changed, Chaney's team did not play its first game until Dec. 3, 25 years ago. That was at UCLA. Those Owls got to 14-0 and finished 32-2, a game shy of the Final Four.

Their closest game during the early run was a three-point win over La Salle and its sophomore star Lionel Simmons.

These Owls, who got 26 points from Khalif Wyatt and all-around game from Scootie Randall (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists), are just about to start the serious part of the schedule.

They beat Kent State (5-3). The other four wins are against teams that are 8-22.

The Owls are at Villanova Wednesday and play unbeaten Duke Saturday at the Izod Center. Syracuse is on the agenda Dec. 22. By Christmas, everybody will have a much better idea about the 2012-13 Owls.

Hawks hammered

Saint Joseph's came into the season with the unofficial title of Best Team in the City. That may eventually prove true, but the Hawks were not competitive in Omaha, Neb., against Creighton. The game was never close. It was 80-51 and, at least, that bad. It was 47-20 at the half.

Creighton (7-1) is really good. The Blue Jays shot 56.6 percent overall, nearly 50 percent from the arc and 100 percent from the foul line. In their first true road game, SJU (4-2), playing in front of 17,390 fans, could not score and could not stop Creighton from scoring. Other than that, it was a pretty good day.

'Nova wins in Nashville

If you can forget that fiasco against Columbia (admittedly not easy), Villanova really has not played all that badly this season, especially when you consider the expectations or lack of them.

Any comparison between last season's SEC champions and this season's Vanderbilt team is silly as the Commodores lost their top six scorers. Still, Villanova did go to Memorial Gym and win, 62-52, completing a Big East/SEC challenge 9-3 blowout.

The Wildcats (4-3) got 16 from Mouph Yarou and another solid bench performance from JayVaughn Pinkston (13 points). Vandy (2-4) is off to its worst start since 1988.

'Nova played well enough to win its first Big 5 game 8 days ago at La Salle. The Explorers caught up late and won in overtime. The season's second Big 5 game is Temple-Villanova. It should give us some clues about both teams.

Well, there is the CAA

Drexel won't have to worry about sweating out an NCAA at-large bid in March. The Dragons will have to win the Colonial to get in, which, given how the Selection Committee has looked at them in the past, was probably the case anyway. So, in the long run, nothing has changed, other than Chris Fouch's season-ending injury. In the short run, Drexel is 2-5 after a come-from-ahead, 75-66 home loss to Rider.

Rider (5-4) got 45 second-half points, which almost never happens to Drexel. But nothing much has gone right for the Dragons. They did get 28 points from Damion Lee. And they have plenty time to get this right.

Remember that the CAA Tournament will have just seven teams in it. So, if the Dragons are going good then and find a way to win it, what has gone down in the first seven games will be a distant memory.

Penn falls at Penn State

It was Episcopal Academy guards on opposing benches when Jerome Allen took his Penn team to the Bryce Jordan Center to play Patrick Chambers' Nittany Lions.

The former point guards would have appreciated seeing PSU's first-team all Big Ten point Tim Frazier, but he is gone for the season with a torn Achilles'. What they got was a game that is probably not going to be a candidate for ESPN Classic.

Penn State (4-3) won it, 58-47. Strawberry Mansion's D.J. Newbill, playing the point for Frazier, had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals and just two turnovers for PSU. Penn (2-6) gave great defensive effort, but the very young Quakers (no seniors) are still finding their way.

That they hung in the game when their leading scorers (Fran Dougherty and Miles Cartwright) combined for just 11 points after averaging 34, is probably a good sign for the Ivy League season. Allen, still searching for a rotation, used 13 players. Freshman Tony Hicks (10 points) had a very impressive baseline dunk and a flying end-to-end three-point play. The Parade All American is going to be a very good player. He sees the game and has speed that is not teachable.

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