NCAA

Philly-Syracuse connection on display at The Basketball Tournament

Philly-Syracuse connection on display at The Basketball Tournament

In no world would anyone confuse the Gallagher Center with Syracuse’s 35,000-seat Carrier Dome.

But with several of the Orange’s best players in the last decade coming from the City of Brotherly Love — including Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Rakeem Christmas, just to name a few  — Philadelphia has become a hub for fans of the 'Cuse.

So, it was only fitting that when Boeheim’s Army took the floor for its second-round matchup in The Basketball Tournament, 100-plus Orange fans in attendance at Philadelphia University stood and applauded until Donte Green’s opening basket went down.

Despite a 39-21 run late in regulation from its opposition, No. 3 Boeheim’s Army eked past No. 11 Gaelnation 106-100 in double overtime, moving on to the Super 16 for a third straight year. Donte Green and Eric Devendorf shouldered the offensive load for the Syracuse alumni, combining for 55 points.

And although Neumann-Goretti alum Jardine was absent Sunday, his high school teammate Jackson and Wilmington, Delaware, native Trevor Cooney gave the winners plenty of local flavors.

“(Philly basketball) means toughness,” Jackson said. “I grew up playing in those outside leagues where if you fall, you’re going to be on concrete. That alone will make you a man.

“Being out there falling, you know the refs aren’t calling much because they want to go home so they’re letting guys play, and I think that’s where I get it from.”

Jackson’s double-double was one of two posted by Boeheim’s Army on Sunday, and the former Big East Defensive Player of the Year led his team on the boards. After graduating back in 2011, he’s bounced between seven different pro teams, never sticking in one place for more than two seasons.

For Cooney, it’s been a similar, albeit much shorter, road. The Sanford School (Del.) alum left upstate New York just a year ago, but he’s already played for a trio of different teams after going undrafted.

And like Jackson, Sunday was just as much of a homecoming for the 6-foot-4 sharpshooter.

“I started in Philly playing AAU when I was in fifth grade, coming up here all the time,” Cooney said. “There’s some good basketball in Delaware, but there’s some really, really good basketball in Philly. If you want to take your game to the next level, this is where you come to play.

“I’ve played most of the time overseas, so it means a lot for my family and friends to come out here and watch me play again.”

The toughness built by their Philly backgrounds certainly showed with the Orange alums nearly choking away a 16-point halftime advantage. Boeheim’s Army had chances to finish things off at the end of both regulation and the first overtime, but they couldn’t close it out.

And for Jackson, who started in Syracuse’s six-overtime epic back in the 2010 Big East tournament, it was yet another reminder of his collegiate days.

“Ever since that game, every time I go into overtime I get that flashbacks of that six-overtime game,” he said.

Unlike years past, the entire group of former Orangemen spent the week leading up to the start of TBT practicing on the Syracuse campus. Cooney said the team was able to spend some time with its namesake, Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim.

Now, they’ll have the chance to head back to the Empire State and play in front more raucous, orange-clad fan, as they are just four wins away from the $2 million prize.

“Every team, as you move forward, has the same guys. We’re all professional players,” Cooney said. “It’s going to come down to getting stops and playing well together.

“If we’re able to do that, I think we’ll win some games.”

No. 7 Team Fancy 82, No. 2 Supernova 74
No team playing Sunday featured as many recognizable names as Supernova. The group of former Wildcats, led by Reggie Redding and Corey Fisher, had no problem making it to the second day but looked as if they’d spent Saturday night in a freezer.

Supernova was ice cold from the get-go, hitting on only 11 of 34 shots before the break as they trailed 44-28. And the frustration flowed into the second half with Maurice Sutton and Jayvaughn Pinkston each picking up a technical foul.

Eventually, Supernova closed to within five of Team Fancy just under the five-minute mark. Redding then kissed a floater off the glass in the final minute, making it a four-point game at 76-72. But Sutton couldn’t finish a put-back jam off a missed triple that would’ve made it a one-score game and Team Fancy pulled off the shocker in the final game of the weekend.

No. 1 FCM Untouchables 91, No. 9 Paul Champions 57
The top seed in the Philly region had no issues for a second straight day. After winning by 25 Saturday morning, the Untouchables had their opponent in the rearview mirror by halftime. Baltimore native Marcus Hatten, who has played for 14 different overseas teams since graduating from St. John’s in 2003, led the victors with 25 points — including a stunning 7 of 12 effort from three-point land.

No one on Paul Champions — a team that featured quite the stark height difference between 5-5 Earl Boykins and 7-6 Mamadou N’Diaye — could muster double-figure points. The Untouchable defense held the Champions to just 37.3 percent shooting. Expect the Untouchables to be heavy favorites to win the region when The Tournament continues July 20 in Brooklyn.

No. 4 Team FOE 82, No. 12 Sideline Cancer 75
It was the second time in as many days that Team FOE found itself trailing at halftime. Sideline Cancer, led by former St. Joe’s shooting guard Aaron Brown’s 21 points, was looking to continue its Cinderella run and make another Super 16 appearance like it did back in 2015.

But FOE, coached by Philly natives and former Kansas standouts Markieff and Marcus Morris, would not be put away.

“Sometimes we don’t execute throughout the whole game, but that’s why the second half is always better than our first half,” Team FOE forward Sean Evans said. “We kind of clicked in that second half but we’ve got to play that same way — hard, effective — throughout the whole game.”

Trailing by as many as eight with just under 11 minutes to play, FOE (Family Over Everything) closed on a 30-15 surge. Former Jayhawks Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little were among the notable names that sparked FOE’s late offense, but they also got 21 combined points from Evans, a Northeast High graduate, and Drexel Alum Scott Rodgers. They’ll meet the Untouchables in 11 days.

Villanova stays at No. 5 in AP poll; Temple receives votes

usa-jay-wright-fran-dunphy-villanova-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Villanova stays at No. 5 in AP poll; Temple receives votes

A week where Villanova barely had to break a sweat has Jay Wright and his Wildcats holding steady in the latest AP poll.

After making quick work of Nicholls St. on Tuesday and then Lafayette Friday evening in Allentown, the 'Cats are the No. 5 team in the land for the second straight week. They moved up from No. 6 last week after leapfrogging now-No.8 Kentucky.

There's an excellent chance things are going to get much trickier for the Wildcats this week as they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which starts Wednesday vs. Western Kentucky. But a potential second-round matchup with No. 18 Purdue looms Thursday, as does a potential championship showdown of titanic proportions with No. 2 Arizona on Friday.

But the 'Cats aren't the only team with some AP poll notoriety this week.

Fran Dunphy's 3-0 Temple team received four votes this week after capturing the Charleston Classic crown. The Owls earned the honors with victories over Old Dominion, Auburn and Clemson.

The Owls next game is their first of the season in the Big 5 as they'll travel to Olney to face La Salle on Sunday. The Owls and Wildcats will meet in North Philly on Dec. 13.

Duke was again No. 1 in this week's poll. Arizona leaped to No. 2, Kansas held its ground at No. 3 and Michigan State slipped to No. 4 before Villanova rounded out the top 5. 

Tons at stake as Temple hosts unbeaten UCF; Penn, Villanova wrap up

usa-frank-nutile.jpg
USA Today Images

Tons at stake as Temple hosts unbeaten UCF; Penn, Villanova wrap up

Temple (5-5, 3-3 AAC) vs. No. 15 UCF (9-0, 6-0 AAC)
Lincoln Financial Field
Saturday, noon, ESPNU

Last time out
Temple beat Cincinnati, 35-24, last Friday.

UCF beat UConn, 49-24, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Both teams have a lot at stake in Saturday’s game. An Owls win would make them bowl eligible and give them a victory against a high-ranked opponent, which would certainly help when it comes time for bowl selection. On the other hand, UCF will look to preserve its perfect season and stay atop the AAC's East Division with a crucial matchup against 8-1 South Florida looming.

Frank Nutile, who will make his fourth consecutive start at quarterback, has sparked Temple’s offense. Since he stepped in, he has completed 61 of 89 passes for 803 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions, and led the Owls to two wins. He will need to continue his stellar play for Temple to beat UCF, which boasts the second-best total and scoring defense in the AAC, allowing 371 yards per game and 20.7 points per game.

The Knights also have the best total offense in the conference, putting up 538 yards per game and 48.6 points per game, which is more than six points better than the second-best team. The Owls must keep UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton (2,720 yards, 22 touchdowns, five interceptions) and the Knights' rushing attack, which averages 210.2 yards per game, in check if they want a chance at the upset.

Series history
The series is tied at 2-2 and Temple has won the past two matchups, including a 26-25 come-from-behind win last year.

What's next?
Temple travels to play Tulsa next Saturday.

UCF hosts No. 23 South Florida on Friday night.

Penn (5-4, 3-3 Ivy) vs. Cornell (3-6, 3-3 Ivy)
Franklin Field
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.


Last time out
Penn defeated Harvard, 23-6, last Saturday.

Cornell lost to Columbia, 18-8, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn has won its last three Ivy League contests and has gained a lot of momentum after losing its first three Ivy League games this season. Cornell shouldn’t pose much of a challenge to the Quakers since the Big Red are second worst in the conference in scoring offense, total offense and pass efficiency. The Quakers’ strength is their rushing attack, as they average 192 yards per game on the ground. Cornell’s rush defense is sixth in the conference, so look for the Quakers to take advantage of this matchup.

Series history
This is the 124th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 72-46-5 advantage and won, 42-20, last season. 

What's next?
This is the final game of the season for both teams.

Villanova (4-6, 2-5 CAA) vs. Delaware (7-3, 5-2 CAA)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pennsylvania 
Saturday, 1 p.m.


Last time out
Villanova lost to Rhode Island, 20-6, last Saturday.

Delaware beat Albany, 22-3, last Saturday.

Scouting report
What stands out about this regular-season finale are the defenses for Delaware and Villanova. Delaware’s scoring defense is second to James Madison as the Blue Hens allow just 15.7 points per game. The Wildcats’ specialty on the defensive side of the football is their run defense. Villanova allows only 72 yards per game on the ground and will look to slow down a Delaware rushing attack that averages 200 yards per game. Also to note, the Blue Hens come in fighting for a berth in the FCS playoffs.

Series history
Villanova leads the series 28-21-1. The Wildcats won, 41-10, last season.

What's next?
This is the regular-season finale for both Villanova and Delaware. For the second time in the last three seasons, the Wildcats won't make the FCS playoffs.