No. 2 Villanova not concerned with being No. 1 after dominant win over St. Joe's

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No. 2 Villanova not concerned with being No. 1 after dominant win over St. Joe's


VILLANOVA, Pa. — “We’re No.1.”

The chant rained down from the student section of the packed Pavilion in the closing minutes of Villanova’s dominating 88-57 win over archrival St. Joe’s Saturday (see Instant Replay).

With No. 1 Kentucky falling to No.11 UCLA Saturday afternoon, Villanova fans are hoping their team leapfrogs Kentucky for the No. 1 spot in the country.

The team? Not so much. 

“Thank God we’ve experienced that already,” head coach Jay Wright said. “It’s something to deal with. And last year, we really didn’t know what to do about it … I thought it affected us a little bit."

Last season, Villanova reached the top spot on Feb. 8. That ranking lasted a whole two weeks. 

“Hopefully, if it happens, we’ll be better,” Wright said. “If it doesn’t happen, we’ll be fine.

“If it happened, these seniors would know, we all would know, what it’s all about. 
“If it didn’t happen, they also know it’s not the biggest of a deal, because we did it, and we lost it.”

But to be in contention for the top spot, the Wildcats first had to deal with a slumping St. Joe’s team.

The Hawks “came out and they had a lot of energy,” as senior Kris Jenkins put it. The Hawks, led by the young backcourt duo of Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, put up a fight against the reigning national champions, even taking a three-point lead with nine minutes to go in the first half. 

“We wanted to avoid the spurts,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli said. “We wanted to play the game in segments.”

After winning the opening segment, the Hawks couldn’t avoid giving up one of those game-killing spurts. 

Led by Josh Hart and Jenkins, Villanova went on a 20-4 run to close out the half. The Wildcats forced six turnovers in five minutes, while shooting 8 for 11 during that stretch, giving the Wildcats a 44-31 halftime advantage.

“Whenever we come out, we want to start the game playing Villanova basketball,” Jenkins said. “We want to set the tone, and they came out and they had a lot of energy, but we were able to wear them out over the course of 40 minutes.”

Hart finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists — recording the school’s first triple-double since 1986.
“He’s just so complete in every way … He’s the best competitor out there,” Wright said. “If he wasn’t on a team with Kris, he’s one of the best shooters, he’s one of the best finishers in the country, and he’s a great decision maker and he’s our best defensive player.

“The guy's so complete, I just believe he’ll be a great player at the next level … I think this guy is as complete a player as there is in the country.”

While the “segments” approach didn’t work in the Hawks’ favor, neither did the overall game plan. 

“The plan was to have them go over the top of us, not through us. Their numbers on two-point shooting coming in were extraordinary, not that their three-point shooting was poor,” Martelli said. 

The Hawks learned the hard way that the over-the-top approach doesn’t work. Villanova shot 47 percent from three (16 for 34), with Jenkins “deadly weapon” of a shot sinking a game-high four three-pointers. 

After the game, both Wright and Martelli admitted Villanova’s experience made the difference in those crucial eight minutes before the half. 

“Just having older guys makes a big difference in this game,” Wright said.  “I think their young guys are going to be really good."

The game was a tale of two teams quickly heading in different directions.

The loss is the fourth straight for St. Joe’s, following a 3-0 start to the season. 

“I hope that everybody is willing to self-examine,” Martelli said. “Anger doesn’t do it. Frustration doesn’t do it. You have to self-evaluate.

“The mindset is that you start with the man in the mirror and go from there.”

For Villanova, the win is their eighth straight to start the year. Is that good enough for the No. 1 spot in the nation?

“Whatever happens, happens,” Wright said. 

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008


That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

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Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday

Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.