After cruising past overmatched Penn, 79-59, SJU (10-6, 1-1 Big 5) has, at least, put itself in position to get on a run. Now, the Hawks, who shot 53.7 percent and were 11-for-27 from the arc, just have to do it.
SJU got a pair of double-doubles - Langston Galloway (20 points. 10 rebounds) and Ronald Roberts (16 points, 12 rebounds).
Penn (3-14, 0-3) finishes its Big 5 schedule at Temple on Wednesday before embarking on its final 13 Ivy League games. The Quakers got 17 points from Darien Nelson-Henry. The freshman big man has scored 57 points in his last four games.
Penn is having a bad season. SJU has not been as good as expected.
Empty seats at the Palestra? None.
The magical 8,722 were in the house as they always are for any Saturday City Series game in January or February.
This city has a few forever love affairs. The Palestra is one.
OWLS FINALLY LOSE AT HOME TO BONNIES
St. Bonaventure had played at Temple 30 times. And never won - until Saturday at the Liacouras Center.
The Bonnies (8-9, 1-3 Atlantic 10) shot 49 percent overall (11-for-18 from the arc) and had just 10 turnovers in their 81-78 win. Temple (12-5, 2-2) finally got some offense, but the defense let the Owls down.
Khalif Wyatt had 31 points for the Owls, but the Bonnies were simply the better team, getting 21 assists on 27 baskets.
Temple was barely in the NCAAs last week. Now, it is probably out. Does being the only team to beat Syracuse mean more than home losses to Canisius and St. Bonaventure? To be determined, but the reality is that the Owls have not been a consistent team all season. And, unless that changes soon, Temple is in trouble.
TURNOVERS, FOULS DOOM VILLANOVA
Why is it that Big East games always have to take 2 1/2 hours? Well, it never helps when one team has 24 turnovers and is called for 32 fouls. That was Villanova's story at Providence.
The Wildcats actually led by 12 late in the first half, but that is hard to hold with the TO and foul numbers. PC won it, 69-66, despite going just 29-for-48 from the foul line.
Providence (10-8, 2-4 Big East) shot just 33.9 percent. Villanova (11-7, 2-3) got 20 points from JayVaughn Pinkston (8 of 10 shooting) and still led 52-48 with 5 minutes left. But, like the Pittsburgh loss on Wednesday, the Wildcats were not able to finish.
Soon to be ex-No. 1 Louisville is at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday to play Villanova. Over under on 'Nova turnovers?
LA SALLE LOSES AT 'X'
Xavier has won 50 of its last 51 home league games after beating La Salle, 70-63. La Salle (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic 10) actually led 20-9 midway through the first half. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, Xavier (11-6, 4-0) led 66-48. That is 57-28 over 28 minutes for those trying to make sense of what went down.
Xavier shot 57.8 percent. La Salle guards Ramon Galloway (5-for-16) and Tyreek Duren (1-for-10) combined to shoot 6-for-26. And the Explorers still need a big win.
DRAGONS WIN WITH 'D'
Drexel (6-11, 2-3 CAA) won 59-48 at William & Mary in a game reminiscent of how the Dragons used to win. W&M (7-10, 1-5) has lost seven straight.
The teams had just 12 turnovers in the game. W&M shot just 32.7 percent. Drexel's Damion Lee returned after missing two games with injury. Point guard Frantz Massenat had 19 points in one of his better games in an up-and-down season.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
It looked like the best Saturday of the season before the games were played, and they played out even better than imagined.
There were six lead changes in the final 90 seconds of Gonzaga at Butler. Roosevelt Jones' steal, dash and buzzer-beating floater was the play of the season. Love both of these teams.
LOUISVILLE STILL THE BEST
I understand Syracuse won at KFC Yum Center without James Southerland, but I still believe in Louisville. The 'Cuse, a dreadful three-point shooting team, was 7-for-15 from the arc. Peyton Siva was 1-for-9 for the 'Ville, which shot just 29 percent in the second half and still had plenty of chances to win.
JERARDI'S TOP 15
1. Michigan (17-1): Off the weekend. Nation's most diverse offense gets 1.25 points per possession. Going to be a very tough out in March.
2. Duke (16-1): Off the weekend. Wednesday at Miami, the only team without an ACC loss. Apparently, Jim Larranaga knew what he was doing when he left George Mason for Coral Gables.
3. Syracuse (17-1): Great defensive end game to win at Louisville, 70-68. Better than I thought, but still not sure how good.
4. Louisville (16-2): Did not finish a game it looked like it had won several times. Still my choice to win it all.
5. Butler (16-2): Beautifully played game had an unreal finish. Butler won, 64-63, over Gonzaga, but who did not love that?
6. Gonzaga (17-2): Did just about everything right except throw the ball toward its basket on the final play.
7. Florida (14-2): Destroyed Missouri, 83-52. Shot 59.3 percent and played great defense to give Billy Donovan his 400th win. Only that late meltdown at Arizona stopping a possible No. 1 ranking.
8. Kansas (16-1): Came from 11 down with 15 minutes left to win, 64-59, at Texas. Shot just 39 percent.
9. Indiana (16-2): Handled Northwestern, 67-59.
10. Minnesota (15-3): Off the weekend. Losses to Duke, Indiana and Michigan.
11. Creighton (17-2): Getting beat, 67-64, at Wichita State hardly a bad loss.
12. Wichita State (17-2): Beat the Blue Jays despite shooting just 4-for-23 from the arc and 9-for-19 from the foul line. Won at VCU on Nov. 13.
13. Arizona (16-1): Xavier transfer Mark Lyons had 24 in 71-54 win at Arizona State. Still not sure how good this team really is.
14. Kansas State (15-2): Shot 10 of 24 from the arc in 69-60 win over Oklahoma.
15. Oregon (16-2): Ended UCLA's 10-game winning streak with 76-67 win at Pauley.