With each shot Temple guard Juan Fernandez knocked down yesterday, the incredulity grew at the Liacouras Center.
Fernandez, a 6-foot-4 sophomore who came to the Owls by way of Rio Tercero, Argentina, burned third-ranked Villanova for 33 points as Temple pulled off a 75-65 upset before a crowd of 8,449.
"Occasionally, he does get unconscious, and he was unconscious today," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.
The final point total for Fernandez was a career high, and it was the most by an Owls player this season.
But even more impressive was the way Fernandez accumulated his points. He was 11 for 15 from the floor - including 7 for 9 from three-point distance - and scored 16 points in the second half after tallying 17 in the first 20 minutes.
"I didn't start well," said Fernandez, who shot an air ball on his first attempt. "But I had been thinking about this game all week. Today, I was feeling good, and today was my turn. When you're feeling it, you can't explain feeling it. You just throw it up and it's going in.
"This is my first time beating a ranked team, and I hope we can do it more often because it felt great."
Temple trailed, 37-31, at halftime, but Fernandez's basket brought the Owls to within one at 37-36 with 17 minutes, 46 seconds left. And less than 30 seconds later, his three-pointer gave Temple a 39-37 edge.
Temple never trailed again.
Fernandez drained a trey with 7:47 to go that increased his team's lead to 59-53. And his last basket, also from beyond, put the Owls ahead, 66-61, with 3:22 left.
Fernandez was 4 for 4 from afar during the second half.
"We watched film on him, and we thought he might hurt us by creating shots for other guys," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "But he was amazing. He hit every big shot."
Notes. Temple's Michael Eric hurt his right knee and played only 11 minutes. . . . Football coach Al Golden and some members of the EagleBank Bowl-bound Owls signed autographs before the game began. Temple will face UCLA on Dec. 29 at RFK Stadium in Washington.