Temple thrashed by SMU, stumbles to 0-3 in AAC

Temple thrashed by SMU, stumbles to 0-3 in AAC


DALLAS -- Semi Ojeleye scored 19 points, Shake Milton and Ben Moore added 18 each and SMU beat Temple 79-65 on Wednesday night for the Mustangs' ninth consecutive victory.

Ojeleye added nine rebounds and Moore and Milton seven each as the Mustangs (13-3, 3-0 American) played only seven players. Jarrey Foster added 13 points and grabbed seven boards with SMU outrebounding Temple 42-25. Moore went over 1,000 career points.

The Owls (9-7, 0-3) got within nine with 1:53 left on a bucket by Quinton Rose, but missed their final five shots while the Mustangs made five free throws.

Obi Enechionyia's 3-pointer gave Temple an 11-6 lead but the Owls made only three of their next 17 shots with SMU -- hitting six straight shots in one stretch -- outscoring them 34-11 to lead 40-22 at halftime.

Enechionyia and Shizz Alston Jr. each scored 16 points for Temple with Rose adding 14.

Josh Hart: 'Ceiling is a lot higher' for this year's Villanova team

Josh Hart: 'Ceiling is a lot higher' for this year's Villanova team

NEWARK, N.J. -- For this group of Villanova players, it’s always about the game at hand.

It’s not about looking forward, and it’s almost never about looking back.

But try to put yourself in their shoes and you’ll see how hard it can be to not look back.

That’ll happen when you’re the defending national champion who won the title with one of the greatest shots in the history of basketball and you’re currently the No. 2 team in the country and the favorite of many pundits to pull off a title repeat for the first time in 10 years since Florida did it in 2006-07.

Again, as they have been so times before, the Wildcats were asked about last year Saturday afternoon. But after thrashing Seton Hall to clinch a share of a record fourth straight Big East regular-season title (see game story), the tone was a little different this time around.

When Josh Hart, standing outside a visiting locker room in a dimly lit hallway in the bowels of Newark’s Prudential Center, was asked to compare the Wildcats at this point this season to the Wildcats at this point last season, he paused for a moment and looked up before giving his answer.

“I think the ceiling is a lot higher, so I think we have more room to grow,” said Hart, Villanova’s National Player of the Year candidate who poured in 19 points in the victory over Seton Hall.

Think about that for a second. The defending national champs who have been steamrolling through the competition this season have “more room to grow.”

It’s a scary thought for the rest of the competition in the nation.

“With Donte (DiVincenzo) and Eric (Paschall) really playing for their first years, Mikal (Bridges) is still young, Dylan (Painter) is getting minutes now in his first year,” Hart explained.

“We’re young and we can get a lot better. It’s tough to say and compare this year to last year. But the thing is that this team could have a better ceiling.”

Hart is not one to say something just for the sake of saying it. And there’s a lot of truth in what he said after Saturday’s win.

The ‘Cats are young. Jalen Brunson (a starter), Mikal Bridges (another starter) and Paschall are sophomores who play significant minutes. DiVincenzo is a redshirt freshman. Painter is a freshman who has started seeing more action with the rib injury to senior big man Darryl Reynolds.

Paschall, DiVincenzo and now Painter are helping solve depth issues that have been perhaps this Villanova team’s only question mark. Head coach Jay Wright has only gone six or seven players deep at times, thanks in large part to the knee injury to junior guard Phil Booth, who’s only suited up for three games this year. And that short rotation was before Reynolds was injured on Feb. 7 against Georgetown and missed the last three games.

Of those five, only Brunson and Bridges played during last season’s run to the title. At this point, you know what you’re going to get from them. You’re going to get 14.6 points and 4.5 assists a night from Brunson and you’re going to get 10.8 points and 4.6 boards a night from Bridges.

But DiVincenzo is now averaging 7.9 points a game and, of course, had that dramatic tip-in at the buzzer to beat Virginia in January. Paschall is up to 6.6 points a game in an average of 20.6 minutes of action and has been starting with Reynolds on the shelf. And Painter, a talented 6-foot-10 forward out of Hershey, is just starting to get his feet wet.

So these games and minutes are imperative for the younger depth players to find their niche.

Because those are the kinds of players that help you win in March.

If anyone knows that, it’s the head coach of the reigning champs.

“We’re in a good spot, but we’ve got to keep getting better,” Wright said. “Being able to win these games without Darryl is good because it’s just getting everyone else more playing time. We get Darryl rested and we’ll have a fresh body back. It’s getting Dylan Painter more minutes and he’s getting more comfortable and our guys are getting more comfortable with him.

“So I think we’re good and I think our guys are understanding the areas we need to improve.”

Much in line with what Wright and Hart said, the youthful Brunson took a similar path when asked to compare this year to last year at this point in time.

“I just know that we are getting better and we are making strides,” the point guard said after starring with 22 points and 10 assists for his first double-double in the win over Seton Hall.

“I think we’re close. But at the same time, there’s always room for improvement. The seniors are taking leadership and I’m taking leadership, as well, just to get us better.”

So this Villanova team thinks it can get better?

If it’s possible, look out.

Delaware's 3-game win streak snapped by William & Mary

AP Images

Delaware's 3-game win streak snapped by William & Mary


NEWARK, Del. -- Daniel Dixon scored 25 points and Omar Prewitt 23 and William & Mary defeated Delaware 85-64 on Saturday night.

Dixon made four 3-pointers and Prewitt had six assists for the Tribe (15-12, 9-7 Colonial Athletic Association). The Tribe was 27 of 52 for 52 percent shooting and made 10 of 22 3-pointers and 21 of 29 free throws.

Ryan Daly had four 3-pointers, 20 points and seven rebounds for the Blue Hens (12-17, 5-11), who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Cazmon Hayes added 11 points and Devonne Pinkard 10. Delaware shot 37.5 percent and was 7 of 23 on 3-pointers.

With Delaware leading 23-20 after a Jacob Cushing dunk, the Tribe went on an 18-3 run, with nine points from Dixon over the final 5:13 of the first half.

The lead remained in double figures in the second half, reaching 23 points in the final minutes.