Owls out of AAC tourney with 2OT loss to UCF

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Owls out of AAC tourney with 2OT loss to UCF

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Isaiah Sykes scored a career-high 36 points with nine rebounds, and the UCF Knights edged eighth-seeded Temple 94-90 Wednesday night in double overtime in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

No. 9 seed UCF (13-17) won its second straight and third in the last five. The Knights will play top-seeded Cincinnati in the quarterfinals Thursday night.

Tristan Spurlock had 19 points for UCF. Calvin Newell had 13 and Kasey Wilson added 12.

Temple (9-22) had its two-game winning streak snapped.

Will Cummings scored 25 points and had nine assists with four steals for Temple before fouling out with 4.2 seconds left. Quenton DeCosey scored a career-high 28 points. Anthony Lee added 17 and Dalton Pepper had 14.

Sykes sent the game into overtime with a free throw with 39.8 seconds left and thought he had beat the buzzer with a jumper to win in regulation. Officials waved it off after a review. The Knights scored six of the first eight points in overtime only to see Temple tie it up for the ninth time with 18.2 seconds left on a fast-break layup by Cummings.

With the clock winding down, Sykes' 3 to win fell well short of the rim setting up the second overtime.

Cummings drove for a basket putting Temple up 84-82, then Newell hit a 3-pointer that put UCF ahead for the 17th and final lead change with 3:31 left. DeCosey hit a 3 with 5.1 seconds left pulling the Owls within 91-90. Newell hit two free throws when Cummings fouled out, then Pepper missed both free throws on Temple's last chance.

UCF, the American's top rebounding team, had a 50-39 edge on the boards that the Knights used to outscore Temple 27-8 on second-chance points. UCF also had an edge at the free throw line, hitting 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) compared to 13 of 26 (50 percent) for Temple.

These teams had never met before this season when brought together by the American. UCF has only been Division I since 1984-85, while Temple has 13 conference tournament titles and 31 NCAA tournament berths on its studded resume. The Owls also are one of only eight programs to play in the NCAA tournament each of the past six seasons.

Both won on their own court with Temple pulling out an 86-78 overtime win March 4 with UCF playing without its leading scorer with Sykes resting a foot. The Knights won 78-76 at home Jan. 4.

This game was as tight as the first two. The Knights jumped out to a 20-13 lead with 12:54 left on a 3-pointer by Newell, but Temple led 40-39 at the half though Sykes beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to keep UCF close.

The Knights built their lead back up to six a couple times in the second half before Temple whittled that down setting up a back and forth finish in regulation.

Villanova takes over No. 1 ranking in AP Top 25 poll

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Villanova takes over No. 1 ranking in AP Top 25 poll

For the second time in school history — both in the last 10 months — Villanova is No. 1 in the country.

The 8-0 Wildcats received 57 of 65 first-place votes in the AP poll, moving ahead of previous No. 1 Kentucky, which lost 97-92 to UCLA on Saturday. (UCLA moved up to No. 2; Kentucky dropped to No. 6.)

Villanova had a pair of Big 5 games last week, beating Penn by 25 at the Palestra and St. Joe's by 31 at The Pavilion.

Dating back to last season, Villanova has won 14 straight games and a national championship. Jay Wright's team has won 19 of its last 20.

The Wildcats have been led by seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. Hart opted to forego the NBA draft and return to school after winning the title and, so far, the decision has paid off. His shooting percentages are up significantly and if he keeps it up, his draft stock will reflect that improvement. Hart is shooting a career-best 58 percent from the field and is up to 43 percent from three. As productive as Hart was last season, his long-distance shooting had dropped from 46 percent as a sophomore to 36 percent as a junior.

Hart is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Jenkins is averaging 14.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Jenkins has carried the confidence of his championship-winning three over into this season. He's shooting 45 percent from three and 94 percent from the line. 

Villanova plays twice this week, vs. La Salle (4-2) on Tuesday and vs. ACC-leading Notre Dame (8-0) Saturday.

Temple receives votes
Temple (6-2) was unranked but received three votes. Based on the votes received by other teams, it makes Temple the de facto No. 36 team in the country.

The Owls have won five in a row, including victories over then-No. 25 Florida State, then-No. 19 West Virginia, and two Big 5 wins last week over St. Joe's and Penn.

Temple faces George Washington on Wednesday and DePaul Saturday.

Resurgent Penn State headed to Rose Bowl vs. USC

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Resurgent Penn State headed to Rose Bowl vs. USC

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State players and coaches rolled hopefully back into Happy Valley on Sunday, greeted as Big Ten champions by cheers and honking car horns.

They got off the team bus, filed into a meeting room and huddled around a giant projector screen as the College Football Playoff selection committee made its picks.

As the contenders were announced, it became clear -- this unexpectedly triumphant season was going to fall frustratingly short of college football's biggest stage.

The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions -- winners of nine straight, including a huge comeback against No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game -- won't be part of the four-team playoff. Despite a head-to-head win against No. 2 Ohio State, the Big Ten title and a run fueled by one of the country's most explosive offenses, Penn State was ranked fifth by the selection committee.

Instead of playing for a national title, Penn State (11-2) will face No. 9 Southern California (9-3) in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

"I would say there were a handful of guys that obviously showed a little bit of frustration and body language and things like that," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "But 99 percent of the guys in there are just excited about staying together as a family and being able to play in such a historic bowl game."

News about the bowl destination quelled a bit of that disappointment, and some, including quarterback Trace McSorley , tweeted their excitement with rose emojis Sunday.

Franklin didn't sleep much on the flight back from Indianapolis and is about to start a six-day recruiting trip, but he was still clearly amped for the Rose Bowl during a phone call with reporters -- even though he believed his team had done enough to go to the playoff by winning what he called "the toughest conference in football."

"Obviously, our guys would've loved to have the opportunity to go to the playoffs and compete for a national championship," Franklin said. "But like I said during the week, I thought our guys would be appreciative of the opportunity to be able to stay together as a family for another week and play the great game of football."

They'll do so against a team that's on a similar trajectory.

The Nittany Lions and Trojans have combined to win 17-straight games and are among the hottest teams in college football. Both have mounted striking turnarounds after ho-hum starts, energizing historically strong programs that had struggled with the weight of NCAA penalties in recent years.

Franklin arrived at Penn State in 2014 and took over a program heavily sanctioned by the NCAA for the university's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Although the Nittany Lions have a full scholarship load this season, they're still feeling the impact from reduced scholarship numbers and start just five seniors, with only 17 on the roster.

USC, meanwhile, incurred NCAA penalties, including the loss of 30 scholarships, in the wake of a scandal involving former football player Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo, who the NCAA determined accepted gifts in the mid-2000s.

This will be the third time the programs match up in the Rose Bowl -- the first was in 1923 and the other in 2009.

"I think it makes for fabulous TV, that's for sure," USC coach Clay Helton said. "And it makes for a great bowl experience and that's what this time is all about."