Owls get another unbeaten

Temple trailed, 44-31, at Seton Hall with 15 minutes left. No problem. The Owls (9-2) stormed back to win, 71-65.

The NCAA resumé is improving by the minute. The Atlantic 10 is deeper than it has been, but Temple's nonconference showing will resonate from now until Selection Sunday.

Another below average

The Pirates (8-1) had been averaging 90.8 points. So they were the eighth team Temple has held at least 15 points below its average. The Hall shot just 34.9 percent.

The biggest shot

Communications Tech star Scootie Randall had to sit out last season and was barely playing this season. He had nine big points in this game and it was his three with 2:23 left that broke a tie and gave the Owls a lead they would not relinquish.

The guards win it

Temple's Ryan Brooks (24) points and Juan Fernandez (21 points) were 13-for-13 from the foul line.

Never make up for that

This was the first meeting between the schools since that infamous second-round NCAA Tournament game in 2000 that the Hall won, 67-65, in overtime. Does the name Ty Shine (26 points) ring a bell?

John Chaney's 1988 team was ranked No. 1 and terrific in just about every way. I always thought his 2000 team had the best chance to win it all. Then, they played a terrible game against a team it would have beaten 19 times out of 20. Does the name Sam Dalembert ring a bell?

Reggie returns

Villanova has no shortage of talent, but the Wildcats were missing something - leadership and defense.

Reggie Redding supplied both in his first game after a 10-game suspension. Coach Jay Wright said a lot about what he thinks of his senior by starting him at the Izod Center against Fordham (2-7) in the Wildcats' 96-58 win.

Redding had 15 points and nine rebounds as 'Nova (10-1) shot 52.1 percent.

The 17 club

Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Antonio Pena each had 17 points for the 'Cats.

Commitment to defense

Jay Wright probably did not have his team's attention after subpar defensive efforts in wins over Maryland and Saint Joseph's. No doubt, he got their attention after the loss to Temple when the Owls shredded the 'Cats' defense in the second half of that upset.

The Wildcats have the right players for Wright's defense. Some of them just don't understand the concepts. They will get it, and when they do this team, with all its offensive firepower, is going to be hell to beat.

La Salle gets Bucknell

The Explorers trailed Bucknell by seven points with 5 minutes left in the first half at Gola Arena. They were shooting it well again, but were not making many stops.

In the second half, La Salle (7-3) held Bucknell (4-7) to 31.3 percent and won comfortably, 83-70.

La Salle shot 58.7 percent for the game. The Explorers got 23 from Kimmani Barrett and 22 from Rodney Green. The two seniors combined to shoot 16-for-18 from the foul line.

Bizarre stat

Bucknell's bench outscored La Salle's 43-8. Which means La Salle's starters outscored Bucknell's 75-27.


Down to eight

Three of the 11 unbeatens went down on Saturday. Seton Hall lost to Temple, which is specializing in taking down unbeaten teams after getting Villanova on Dec. 13. By the way, Kansas appears at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 2.

Texas Tech (9-1) made a big comeback before losing at very good Wichita State, 85-83.

And Georgetown (8-1), in its annual game at McDonough Gym, lost to Old Dominion, 61-57. ODU led 47-29 with 18 minutes left. The Hoyas made a big comeback, but could not get there.

Crazy finishes

Not quite sure why it took so long, but the officials got it right at the end of Butler's 69-68 win over visiting Xavier. Basically, the game clock, as determined by stopwatch, stopped for 1.3 seconds during Butler's final possession. Nobody has explained why it stopped.

Gordon Hayward's game-winner left his hand with 1.8 seconds left. It went through the net at 1.2 seconds when the clock stopped. Subtract 1.3 from 1.2 and you get zero. Game over. Right call.

One can certainly debate some of the calls and non-calls made on that final possession that started with Butler getting a questionable tie-up on Xavier and the ball (because of that dreaded arrow). The Bulldogs missed two treys, got two offensive rebounds, had a near turnover, had to chase the ball into the backcourt as the clock inexplicably stopped and then won at the buzzer - even if the buzzer still hasn't gone off.

Even if the refs got it right, it just could not have felt right to Xavier, which thought it had 1.2 seconds left and eventually found out the game was over.

Xavier lost despite shooting 69.6 percent in the second half.

Massachusetts beat Memphis in Boston, 73-72, after completely messing up a late inbounds pass. The ball started flying about and caromed right to the hands of freshman Terrell Vinson. He got rid of it like it was hot. His short shot off the glass was the game-winner.

The contrast

Was anybody else switching back and forth between UNC-Texas and Butler-Xavier?

Was there a better example of where the game has gone? The big boys were playing in Cowboys Stadium. The smaller boys were playing in wonderful old Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

And which game was the more interesting?

Was it just the venues? No. But ...

Basketball should be played in gyms where the fans can feel (and see) the players and vice versa. I understand domes are here to stay, but it does not mean any of us have to like it.


1. Syracuse (11-0): The country's best shooting team shot 56.1 percent in 85-72 win over improved St. Bonaventure.

2. Kansas (10-0): Marcus Morris had 23 points and 10 rebounds in 75-64 over disappointing Michigan. KU has won 48 straight at Allen.

3. Texas (10-0): Dexter Pittman and Damion James combined for 48 points and 30 rebounds in 103-90 win over North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium in front of 38,052.

4. Kentucky (11-0): A 66 percent free-throw shooting team, the Wildcats were 18-for-18 in 90-69 win over Austin Peay. Going for program win No. 2,000 against Drexel tonight at Rupp.

5. West Virginia (8-0): Blew a 17-point lead with 15 minutes left at 4-8 Cleveland State and needed a Da'Sean Butler layup with 1 second left to win, 80-78.

6. Purdue (10-0): Suffocated Ball State, 69-49. Led 38-15 at the half.

7. Villanova (10-1): Shot 52.1 percent and defended like they can in 96-58 win over no-hope Fordham at Izod Center.

8. Duke (9-1): Held Gonzaga to lowest total in a quarter-century in 76-41 win at Madison Square Garden. Zags had 18 turnovers and 15 field goals.

9. Mississippi (10-1): Shot 67.7 percent in 108-64 win against Centenary. Only loss was to Villanova. Plays at West Virginia on Wednesday.

10. Kansas State (10-1): Super impressive, 87-74 win at Alabama. K-State is a player in very deep Big 12.

11. New Mexico (12-0): Shot just 29.9 percent and trailed Creighton by 16 points in the first half, but roared back to win, 66-61. Blue Jays shot 71.4 percent in the first half.

12. Missouri State (10-0): Won, 73-63, at Saint Louis. Only team to beat Tulsa. In a very tough Missouri Valley Conference with Wichita State and Northern Iowa.

13. North Carolina (8-3): Still has tons of talent. Losses to Syracuse, Kentucky and Texas.

14. Michigan State (9-2): Routed IPFW, 80-58. Plays at Texas tomorrow night.

15. Temple (9-2): Fran Dunphy's team has been defending all season. Now, the Owls are making shots. Handed Seton Hall its first loss, 71-65.