Temple and St. Joe's Set to Square off in Final Game as A-10 Members

Temple and St. Joe's Set to Square off in Final Game as A-10 Members

It's the most-played rivalry in the Big 5 — spanning 154 games — and for the first time in 31 years, it's about to change.

Temple and Saint Joseph's have played in the the Atlantic 10 since 1982, but, this coming July, Temple will finally make the jump to the Big East for all-sports, after re-joining as a football-only member last summer.

That makes tonight, barring a A-10 tournament meeting, the last time Temple and St. Joe's will play each other as members of the same conference.

Saturday night, 6 p.m., the Hagan Arena at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Hawk Hill (CBS Sports Network / 610 AM — Martucci-Lunardi / 1210 AM — Donahue-Baum).

It's not a bad to way to go out, especially with something on the line. Neither Temple (14-6, 3-3) nor St. Joe's (12-7, 3-3) want to fall below .500 in a deep league when both have fallen short of their preseason expectations to date. Another win or loss will teach us something about both of these teams and bolster or weaken their respective NCAA hopes. The A-10 is the strongest its been in years, but its members seem to be doing more to beat each other up than to strengthen the tournament bids of the best teams, at least in the early going.

And that brings us to the bigger picture, just when the league is its most formidable, the most change is on the way. Temple — a program with five straight NCAA tournament appearances that has won the conference tournament or regular-season title in four of the last five seasons — is on its way out. But so too — it appears — is Xavier, and possibly Butler, and possibly Dayton, and possibly who knows who else might defect to the Catholic 7's new basketball conference, expected to begin play in 2014. (Charlotte, for the record, is going to Conference USA in 2013. I didn't forget. It's just meh.)

No matter who goes where, local fans will always have the Big 5 games. But tonight is the last time it'll mean something extra in the standings. To a lesser degree — the two haven't shared the same conference for as long — we'll be saying the same thing about Temple-La Salle on Feb. 21.

Paint the rollouts and maybe throw a streamer or two. Tonight isn't the end. It's just the end of what we're used to.

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But, before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days,” (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, said he empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs


Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Alek Torgersen threw four touchdown passes, three to Justin Watson, and Penn rolled to a 42-7 victory over Yale in the first night game in Yale Bowl history.

Torgersen completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and rushed for 66 yards. Watson had 10 receptions for 166 yards with touchdowns covering 5, 41 and 35 yards.

Torgersen moved into a tie for second with 47 career TD passes and Watson moved into fourth in career receptions (161) and touchdowns (17) for the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy Leauge).

Tre Solomon rushed for 120 yards, seven shy of the career high he set a week earlier, on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run, for Penn, which won its fourth straight. Cameron Countryman had a 10-yard touchdown reception and Karekin Brooks had a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

Penn, which led 35-0 at halftime, finished with 508 yards and held the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2) to 229.