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Villanova's 2009 Final Four team reunites for big TBT win

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Joe Bloss

Villanova's 2009 Final Four team reunites for big TBT win

Before there was Kris Jenkins, Scottie Reynolds was the one who hit “the shot.” His last-second heroics in 2009 propelled ‘Nova to its first Final Four since winning it all in 1985. He was the beloved Villanova Wildcat and still is the second-leading scorer in program history. So it makes sense a Supernova team with Reynolds and four other guys from that Final Four squad would be the second seed in The Basketball Tournament's Northeast region, who went on to beat 15-seeded South Jamaica Kings, 97-72.

But seedings didn't scare the Kings one bit Saturday during the TBT first round at Philadelphia University’s Gallagher Center.

“Shock the world,” guard Cameron Tyler said on the bench during a timeout.

For most of the first half, it looked like the shock was possible. The game was tied at 24 with four minutes left in the first of two 18-minute halves. The offense was not there for SuperNova. Some early threes fell, but 40 points at the break didn’t equate to the well-oiled machine a Jay Wright-run offense usually shows.

Reggie Redding, a starting guard on that 2009 Final Four team who played last season in Munich, knew what the problem was. And it’s just what you’d guess.

“Man, how many years?” he said. “How many years since we've played together? Guys not in the best shape, you know.”

Redding said that some of the team practiced in Villanova’s practice facility against current players Thursday. Clearly, they needed a bit more time to get back to their old ways.

But once the rust came off, it was Villanova basketball at its finest. South Jamaica Kings actually took the lead with just under four minutes left in the first half, 26-24. Then Supernova turned the corner. Reynolds knocked in a three. Then he did it again two possessions later. And in the final minute, he really looked like the guy who owned the Main Line a few years ago.

After a timeout, Reynolds got a dish while going full speed from the wing. But when he reached the basket, he tossed to the corner for an open three. It fell for the last basket of the half, executed to perfection just like that layup to beat Pitt and send the ‘Cats to Detroit. The mood had shifted.

“We gotta adjust, they going corners now,” one King said on his way off the court at the start of halftime. 

And in the second half, the story went from close call to not at all. Up 15 early, Reynolds again beat his man and went to the rim. Again he dished, this time to Redding in the corner. He didn’t convert, but Mo Sutton sure did. Sutton grabbed the ball above the rim and emphatically slammed it down in one motion. There was plenty of time left on the clock, but everyone in the gym knew it was probably over.

It was. Supernova continued to make it ugly. Everyone on the team scored. Reynolds had 15, Corey Fisher contributed 16, and Malcolm Grant, who played his freshman season at Villanova in 2007-2008 before transferring to Miami (Florida), led the way with 21 of the bench. Down the stretch, the interior passing between Jayvaughn Pinkston, Isaiah Armwood and Sutton looked like keep-away against a frustrated Kings bunch. In the game’s waning minutes, the effort was gone. Supernova was just looking to get to 100. The Kings were just looking to leave.

By the time the lead was comfortable, any stress of an early-round exit — which Villanova basketball is all too familiar with — had turned to joy. 

“When we get back together, it's like we never left each other,” Redding said. “Everybody don't keep in contact that much, but … It was fun, man, it's like we were back in the locker room.”

There were seven other games northeast region games Saturday, with plenty of Philly ties in a handful of the matchups. Here’s a brief recap of the rest of the action:

No. 8 Talladega Knights vs.  No. 9 Paul Champions
The contrast of Paul Champions is something else. Earl Boykins, one of the NBA’s shortest players ever at 5-foot-5, took command in a 78-74 win with 25 points and five assists. But then Paul Champions comes at you with a 7-foot-6 tower in Mamadou Ndiaye and fan favorite Chukwudiebere Maduabum, who’s 6-foot-10. They’ll be fun to watch moving forward.

No. 1 FCM Untouchables vs.  No. 16 OPI
The Untouchables are the No. 1 seed because of results like this one. OPI was down just six at half, but was held to just 39 percent from the field after the break. Coached by Kevin Durant’s brother Tony, the Untouchables are pretty much loaded with former NBA guys and European league studs. They won, 92-77.

No. 4 Team FOE vs. No. 13 DC On Point
The Philly connection runs deep on Team FOE. The Morris twins coach. Markus Kennedy, who played one season at Villanova before transferring to Southern Methodist, started down low, and Scott Rodgers of Drexel played up top. But if you needed any more notice that the squad was somewhat local, the crowd made that clear. In an 80-75 win that was really close down the stretch after a Team FOE comeback in the second half, the FOE fans went wild.

No. 5 Zoo Crew (Pittsburgh Alumni) vs. No. 12 Sideline Cancer
Often as it goes during March Madness, that 5-12 matchup wasn’t a breeze for the higher seed. Led by Levance Fields, the Zoo Crew kept it close against Sideline Cancer for all 36 minutes, but in the end, even Fields’ 35 points weren’t enough. Zoo Crew lacked the defense needed to advance. Five of Sideline Cancer’s seven players scored in double figures, and both Duane (not The Rock) Johnson and former St. Joseph’s guard Aaron Brown notched 25 points in a 100-87 win.

No. 6 City of Gods vs. No. 11 GaelNation
The two teams matched bucket for bucket for all 36 minutes. City of Gods, with Drexel’s Phil Goss and Temple’s David Hawkins, looked to be distancing themselves late until Javier Carter of GaelNation threw down maybe the meanest dunk of the day to that point. The Gaels tied it up a possession later, only to foul while in the bonus at the other end. But once City of Gods missed both with 8.7 seconds left, Steven Burtt got the rock and sprinted for a layup at the other end. He drained it and City of God’s advanced to the front court with a timeout. They missed and that was it. GaelNation won, 88-86.

No. 3 Boeheim's Army (Syracuse Alumni) vs. No. 14 DuBois Dream
Boeheim’s Army was the only team to begin its blowout from the get-go. They shot 41 percent from deep in the first half and jumped out to a 14-0 lead. The gap was 20 at the half. In the second half, they changed gears and ran the break. DuBois Dream was small, with their tallest man at 6-foot-8, and that showed. Rick Jackson and DaShonte Riley had their way inside and it ended as a lopsided finish, 99-66.

No. 7 Team Fancy vs. No. 10 Rebel Riders (Rider Alumni)
The gym was rather hollow compared to earlier in the day, but the intensity wasn’t cut out. Things got chippy by the game's end, with the Rebel Riders losing, 77-70. However, two local guys put up notable efforts. Temple’s Ramone Moore posted 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting. And Jason Thompson, a 6-foot-11 Medford, New Jersey, native and Rider alum who spent eight seasons in the NBA, totaled 12 points and 16 boards. You might remember Thompson from a certain trade involving the Sixers a few years back (think: pick swap). He most recently played professionally in China. 

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

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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

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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.