Temple senior guard Shizz Alston is a historian of Philadelphia basketball, and one thing he’d like on his resume before graduating is a Big 5 championship.
In one of the more anticipated Big 5 games in recent seasons, Temple (7-1, 2-0 Big 5) will visit No. 21 Villanova (6-2, 1-0) at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Villanova has won five straight Big 5 titles and 23 consecutive City Series games. Temple has lost five straight to Villanova. The last time the Owls beat the Wildcats was Dec. 5, 2012, a 76-61 victory at Villanova. That season, the Owls shared the Big 5 title with La Salle.
“Just one of my goals is to win the Big 5 championship,” Alston said before Temple’s practice Monday. “[Villanova] won it for a number of years in a row and beating Villanova would help toward that goal, and that is my goal.”
Alston also would like to join in the family bragging rights. His father, Levan, played two seasons at Temple and was part of Big 5 championship teams both years, in 1995 and 1996, although that was during an eight-year period in which each team played only two Big 5 games.
“My dad has let me know it that he has won the Big 5 before,” Alston said, laughing.
Alston, a former standout at Haverford School, has been attending Big 5 games for years.
“When I was younger, Temple was running the Big 5, so I want to get it back to when I was younger, and that would mean a lot if we can start it off this year,” said Alston, who along with Quinton Rose is averaging a team-high 17.1 points.
Coming off Saturday’s 77-70 win at St. Joseph’s, Temple has won three in a row since a 57-51 loss in Brooklyn to VCU, a game the Rams opened with a 19-2 spurt.
For Temple to have a chance, the Owls will have to shoot better from three-point range. Temple is shooting 29.9 percent from deep, which entering Monday was 292nd among Division I teams.
“We’re 7-1 and have been shooting terrible from three,” said Alston, who is shooting a team-best 37.1 percent from deep. “That is a good thing in my mind because if we can get that together, we can be a scary team.”
Villanova, which has lost to Michigan and Furman at home, still looks a lot like the defending national champ to Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
When asked for a weakness in the Wildcats, Dunphy was hard-pressed for an answer.
“I am still looking for it,” he said. “I don’t see a weakness.”
As for his own team, Dunphy acknowledges the statistics aren’t overly impressive, but the Owls have played well in crunch time.
“What we are doing is making timely shots, and coming up with a big defensive stop here and there,” Dunphy said. “That is what is saving us.”