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 NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).