Moore, Hollis-Jefferson Lead Temple over Rival Villanova

Moore, Hollis-Jefferson Lead Temple over Rival Villanova

In the battle for Big 5 Player of the Year, Ramone Moore put forth his best effort when it mattered most. The fifth-year senior posted a game-high and career-high 32 points in Temple's 78-67 win over Villanova Saturday evening.

"I just tried to be aggressive," said Moore after the game. "I knew it was going to take a big game from one of us to beat these guys."

Indeed, in the last three meetings between Temple and Villanova, it's been that one marquee performance that's made the difference, and ultimately decided the outcome. Two years ago, it was Juan Fernandez with a career-high 33. Last year, it Maalik Wayns with a team-high 21.

This year, it was Moore's turn.

"We can't win this game without him having this kind of game," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "He's had a number of these kinds of games over the years, when we need somebody to step up."

It wasn't totally smooth sailing, though, for Ramone, who struggled to find his shot in the first half and quickly found himself in foul trouble. "In the first half, my three wasn't going down," said Moore. "So I said to myself, 'I'm going to start driving."

And drive he did. Scoring 23 of his 32 in the second half, Moore embodied the reincarnation of former Temple Owl Mark Tyndale with the way he tore to the basket. And while he never totally found his jumper, he did just fine from the line, converting 14 of his 15 attempts.

While Moore will get the credit for leading the team in scoring—credit he is very much due—it was Rahlr Hollis-Jefferson who did, as both coaches Dunphy and Wright put it, all the "little things." And, really, Rahlir has a special ability to make those "little plays" look and feel like big plays.

"He had two great tip-ins today," said Dunphy. "They were critical tip-ins at the right time for us."

Hollis-Jefferson has developed something of a habit in the early stages of this, his junior, season when it comes to using his length and vertical leap to make plays that spark his team, be they dunks, alley-oops, tip-ins or a career-high 14 rebounds against Villanova. Chipping in with eleven points, Saturday was the second double-double of the 6-6 power forward's career, and first of the season.

For Villanova, Maalik Wayns led all Wildcat scorers with 23, but as coach Jay Wright would reiterate multiple times after game, his teammates "didn't give him much help."

Dominic Cheek looked sharp after knocking down two early 3-pointers, but would fade from the game in the second, ending up just 3-10 shooting . Darrun Hilliard, who has been one of 'Nova's best jump shooters this year, finished 0-8 from the floor and 0-5 from behind the line. Other than Cheek and Wayns, only one other Wildcat—Mouphtaou Yarou—finished in double figures, and he played just 19 minutes.

"We had real difficultly guarding their guards," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "They were playing, at times, five perimeter people. So, we were trying to match up defensively."

In that way, Temple's lack of height—a perceived disadvantage prior to the game—actually worked in its favor, forcing Villanova to respond to an abnormally small lineup it wasn't prepared to handle.

"They're really long and quick to the ball," said Wright of Temple's lineup. "Rebounding isn't just being big, they're really quick to the ball. [When] you've got a big guy like Mouph, and if you're playing against a thick center at Syracuse, that's a good thing, but when you're playing against quicker guys that go after the ball…"

Whether they would have been better off continuing to play Yarou to pound Temple inside on offense, rather than trying, and failing, to match up on defense, is a question that will probably keep Wright awake tonight.

Manning the bench at the other end of the floor, coach Dunphy saw Temple's undersized rotation as neither an advantage nor disadvantage, only "the hand [Temple's] been dealt."

"It's what we do," said Dunphy "We don't have a myriad of options. We have guys out there where everybody is the same size. One thing we can do is just switch everything, which helps us.

"It's just how we play."

And on that front, when it comes to how Temple plays, it was Wright who captured the tone of the night. "They made so many little plays, you know? A lot of Ramone Moore's plays were like tip-ins, great drives, just really smart plays. I think they're a really smart team."

On Saturday in North Philadelphia, Villanova didn't just lose to a smarter team, but to, as Wright put it, "a better team."

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).