On December 5th, 2012, Temple defeated Villanova 76-61 at the Pavillion. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 23-0 in Big 5 play, a streak that the Owls will look to end on Wednesday night, exactly six years later.
Owls head coach Fran Dunphy is 3-9 against Villanova since taking over as the Owls’ head coach prior to the 2006-07 season. Wednesday night’s game at the Pavillion will be the final Big 5 road game Dunphy coaches on the Owls’ bench.
Perhaps now is as good of a time as any for the Owls to try and take down the school that has dominated Philadelphia college basketball for the better part of the last decade. The Wildcats have won two of the last three National Championships, however, a 27-point loss to Michigan and a 76-68 loss at home to Furman in the early going this season has caused many to believe that the boys on the Main Line are as vulnerable as ever.
“Villanova is a terrific good basketball program,” Dunphy said. “They’re great at three-point shooting and one of the things I don’t think they get enough credit for is how good their defense is. We’re looking forward to the challenge while also knowing how difficult the charge is.”
The Wildcats have been led this season by the senior duo of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, averaging 16.9 and 15.8 points respectively. Owls senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. is as well versed as anyone in Villanova’s personnel and the Big 5 as a whole.
Alston Jr. is tied with junior Quinton Rose for the team lead in points per game with 17.1. The son of former Owl, Levan Alston Sr., was a sophomore at The Haverford School on the Philadelphia Main Line the last time the Wildcats lost a Big 5 game.
“When I was younger Temple was running the Big 5,” Alston Jr. said. “One of my goals is to win a Big 5 championship. It would mean a lot to me to get [Dunphy], who has more Big 5 coaching wins than anybody, a Big 5 title.”
The Wildcats enter Wednesday night’s game at 6-2 while the Owls come in with a 7-1 record and as 8.5-point underdogs. If the Owls are going to upset Villanova, their shooting from the perimeter is going to have to improve, shooting just 29.9% from three this season, which ranks 290th out of 351 Division I teams.
“We’re 7-1 and we’re shooting terribly from three so that’s kind of a good thing,” Alston Jr. said. “If we can get that together I think we’ll be a scary team.”
Photo: Irish Haines