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Temple turns away Villanova, 78-67

A sign in Temple's student section read "This is Our City."

Temple's Khalif Wyatt drives past Villanova's James Bell in the first half on Saturday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Temple's Khalif Wyatt drives past Villanova's James Bell in the first half on Saturday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)Read more

A sign in Temple's student section read "This is Our City."

And it just might be.

In a matchup of Big Five powers, Temple defeated Villanova, 78-67, on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,206 at the Liacouras Center.

The victory makes the Owls (6-2, 2-0 Big Five) the favorite to win the city title. The win also marked Temple's second triumph over the Wildcats (5-4, 2-1) in three seasons.

The Owls will certainly enjoy this one for a long time.

"Every Big Five game is important, but I think 'Nova has the edge," said Owls fifth-year senior guard Ramone Moore, who scored a career-best 32 points. "Since I've been here, I think they've won three years of my five years.

"So we take the challenge to beat those guys so we have bragging right to say, 'We won the Big Five championship.' "

But for Temple, this victory means more than being in position to win a city title. Folks on North Broad Street have been looking forward to this game since it was reported that Villanova had blocked the Owls' Big East Conference admittance in October.

Back then, Temple fans vowed vengeance.

And Moore was the one who provided the retaliation.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder scored most of his 23 second-half points by roaming around the basket. That enabled him to score layups, convert tip-ins or get fouled and make free throws.

He shot 14 of 15 from the foul line. Twelve of those made free throws came after intermission, when he went 12 of 13.

Moore also scored six points in a decisive 10-0 run that gave the Owls a 64-54 cushion with 6 minutes, 15 seconds remaining. Nova pulled within six points on Maalik Wayns' free throws with 5:28 left. But that was a close at it got thanks in large part to Moore.

His stellar performance came two seasons after being held scoreless against Villanova.

"He's just getting better," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "He's really improved. And we are not that good in the perimeter defense."

Junior guard Khalif Wyatt added 13 points for the Owls. Junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson finished with 11 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Maalik Wayns led Temple with 23 points and a game-high seven assists. However, guards Dominic Cheek and Darrun Hilliard struggled. Hilliard was held scoreless after missing all eight of his field-goal attempts. Cheek scored 10 points, but went 3 for 10 from the floor.

Notes. St. Joseph of Metuchen (N.J.) freshman forward Karl Townes Jr. attended the Temple vs. Villanova game. The 6-10 standout, who was a Temple guest, watched the game with his parents and St. Joseph senior swingman Quenton DeCosey, who signed with the Owls last month. Townes is regarded as one the nation's top ninth-graders, according to multiple recruiting services. He is being heavily recruited by Temple, Villanova, Kentucky, Michigan State, Rutgers, UCLA, Seton Hall and Kansas among others. . . . Jimmy Rollins was also in attendance.