NCAA

Instant Replay: Princeton 64, Penn 49

Instant Replay: Princeton 64, Penn 49

BOX SCORE

When Penn and Princeton tip off, it’s almost always a close game 40 minutes later. Count Tuesday night as an exception.

Ivy League-leading Princeton blitzed Penn with a bevy of three-point shots and lockdown defense en route to a comfortable win over the Quakers, 64-49, at the Palestra Tuesday night. Princeton senior Spencer Weisz led the way with 22 points on 8 for 14 shooting, while Penn was paced by Darnell Foreman, who pumped in a team-high 11 points.

Sophomore guard Myles Stephens had 16 points on just six shots for Princeton, while junior Amir Bell had eight points and three assists off the bench. Penn's only other double-figure scorers were freshman A.J. Brodeur and junior Sam Jones, who each had 10 points.

With the win, the 13-6 Tigers swept the season series with the Quakers and remain the only team undefeated in the Ancient Eight at 6-0. Penn is mired in last place with its 7-12 record (0-6 Ivy).

Turning point
Like the Atlanta Falcons found out on Sunday, you don't win games just with your offense. Princeton put Penn in a hole with an impressive defensive spurt in the first half, when it held Penn scoreless for over 7½ minutes. Princeton had multiple blocks in the stretch while even forcing a shot-clock violation.

Weisz took advantage on the other end with a couple of threes to move Princeton from down 10-9 to up 22-10.

First half
The matchup between these two teams exactly one month earlier was highlighted by an ugly first half without nearly any assists. While there were 16 combined turnovers in the first half Tuesday, the ball movement on both sides was much crisper.

Princeton took a 39-27 lead at the half through its outside shooting and Penn's lack of makes from deep. The Tigers were 9 for 14 from three in the first half with four makes coming from Weisz, who had a game-high 14 points before the break. The Tigers held the Quakers to just two makes from beyond the arc before the break by effectively navigating screens and playing suffocating man-to-man defense.

Penn's sole advantage came inside, where it led the Tigers, 18-8, on points in the paint before the break. Sophomore Max Rothschild made all three of his baskets before the break, including two before the first media timeout.

Happy birthday, Palestra
The Cathedral of College Basketball officially celebrated its 90th year with the Tigers' trip to the arena. The first event at the Palestra came on Jan. 1, 1927, when Penn took down Yale, 26-15. To celebrate the occasion, student prices were rolled back to 55 cents, the price for students for that Yale game, while other tickets were sold for $19.27 to celebrate the year of the Palestra's opening.

All-time series
This was the 236th meeting between the two programs. Penn leads the all-time series, 124-112. Princeton, however, has now won the last seven and 15 of the last 17 duels.

Implications
The Quakers' loss lessens the chances that they reach the first-ever Ivy League Tournament, held this March at the Palestra. The team would likely need to win out to have a chance at sneaking into the tournament, which includes the top four teams in the conference. Princeton's win means the Tigers are probably going to return to the Palestra for the tournament and increases their chances at the No. 1 seed.

What's next
Both Penn and Princeton host Columbia and Cornell this weekend, resuming Ivy doubleheaders.

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.