Jay Wright is all too familiar with the history of the Big Five, having grown up in Bucks County, and that means he talks a lot to his Villanova players about the unpredictable nature of city series games.
Then again, having Scottie Reynolds in his lineup does tend to make things a little more predictable.
Reynolds, the brilliant sophomore guard, recovered from a dismal shooting performance against LSU to contribute 27 points and nine assists last night, lifting the No. 25 Wildcats to a 101-93 victory over Temple at the Liacouras Center and a record-setting 13th consecutive win in Big Five play.
The Wildcats (7-1 overall, 2-0 Big Five) broke the mark of 12 consecutive wins set by Penn between 1972 and 1975 with their highest scoring output in a Big Five game since the 102 points they put up on St. Joseph's in the 2001-02 season. It was the most points allowed by the Owls in the 10-year history of their building.
Temple (4-5, 0-1) scored a lot, too, tallying 33 points in the final 5 minutes, 33 seconds in rallying from a 24-point deficit to make the final score respectable. The Owls threw a scare into a Wildcats team that made up a 21-point deficit in the final 8:50 against LSU on Thursday.
"I try to explain to them that anything can happen in these games," Wright said afterward. "It would be perfect for us to come back against LSU and then get up here . . . It would be another great Big Five story. You just don't want to be part of it. That's what I was thinking about toward the end."
But Villanova wound up having enough, even though the Wildcats scored their last field goal, a layup by Antonio Peña, with 5:58 remaining to give them an 84-60 lead. The Wildcats scored their final 17 points, on 18 attempts, from the free-throw line.
Reynolds recovered from a 1-of-8, four-point performance against LSU to guide a Villanova offense that shot 53.2 percent from the field and went on a run of 21 made shots in 29 attempts (72.4 percent) during a 16-minute stretch in the middle of the game.
Reynolds wound up shooting 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range. He contributed six rebounds and three steals.
"Every time we step on the floor, it's a new time," Reynolds said. "It's a new time to improve yourself and come out and play hard for 40 minutes. That [LSU] game is in the past. However many points I have today, I know I have to forget about this game the next time I step on the floor."
Reynolds took charge after Villanova came out for the second half holding a precarious 42-39 lead. He scored 11 points, six of them on a pair of three-point baskets, to stretch the margin to 64-50 with 14 minutes to play.
"I thought Reynolds was spectacular in the second half," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "He controlled everything that needed to be controlled. When they needed a big basket, he got it or he was responsible for it."
Peña, who finished with a career-high 17 points, scored 11 of Villanova's next 20 to increase the margin to 24. The Owls used a 19-5 run to get to within 89-79 on a three-point basket by Ryan Brooks, who established a career high with 22 points.
Mark Tyndale led the Owls with 24 points.
Neither coach cared much for his team's defense, especially in the second half, when 113 points were scored and the two squads combined to shoot 58.3 percent.
On this night for the Wildcats, there was history. Wright was glad to see how his freshmen handled the hostile audience, especially Corey Fisher, who scored Villanova's first 10 points of the game and finished with 16.
Reynolds, whose introduction to an unfriendly Big Five crowd came last year against Penn at the Palestra, knows what it's all about.
"I'm kind of used to it and I understand it and value it, and I appreciate it a lot more," Reynolds said. "The 13 wins - something we always say is we want to carry on the tradition. I think that we try to play harder every day and play more together than other people."