AROUND THE CITY
OVERWHELMED BY BLUE DEVILS
Temple had played pretty well against fair competition. The veteran Owls (three senior starters), however, were not ready for a giant step up in class against Duke at the Izod Center. Temple was nervous at the start and, if you play nervous against Duke, America's best front-running program is just about impossible to beat.
Temple (6-1) was never really in it and lost, 90-67. Duke (9-0) was 12-for-20 from the arc. The Owls took 73 shots and missed 44 of them. No Temple starter got double figures.
THE FREE-THROW LINE
It wasn't relevant to the outcome and there is no truth to the rumor that Duke starts all games in the bonus, but it was interesting that Duke shot 29 free throws to just four for Temple.
The Owls' Quenton DeCosey was 5-for-6 and 3-for-3 from the arc for 13 points. If some of the unknowns become knowns as John Chaney loved to say, DeCosey's game could be good news for the Owls down the road.
NOT PRETTY AT PALESTRA
Villanova and Penn combined to get called for 52 personal fouls, shoot 71 free throws and commit 32 turnovers. The Wildcats never trailed and won, 68-55, in a match between a team that does not shoot well and a team that is so young it has yet to discover how to play offense.
Villanova (5-4, 1-2 Big 5) had four players score between 10 and 13 points. Mile Cartwright had 16 points for Penn (2-7, 0-1).
Style points don't matter much for 'Nova these days. Any win is a good win. Penn is trying to get better for the Ivy League, which looks much more wide open than it did in the summer.
'Nova concludes its Big 5 season Tuesday at home against Saint Joseph's. Penn is off until Dec. 21 at Delaware.
DUREN AT THE BUZZER
It is way too early to make any city pronouncements, but I thought before the season began that La Salle point guard Tyreek Duren was the city's Most Valuable Player. No reason to change that thinking after a month.
With 2 seconds left at Northeastern, Duren calmly knocked out the game-winner as La Salle won it, 66-64.
La Salle (6-1) shot 50 percent and got 24 points from scoring machine Ramon Galloway. The Explorers won despite letting Northeastern (4-5) shoot 55 percent. But La Salle had Duren, the coolest player in town, one of the best and definitely invaluable.
La Salle gets Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland eligible for Saturday's game at Patriot League power Bucknell. That should make a strong guard line even stronger.
GREAT FINISH FOR DRAGONS
After 16 minutes, Drexel trailed at Princeton, 30-17. Given how the season has gone and how difficult it can be to make up ground on the Tigers, that could have been a signal for a lesser team to give up. Instead, the Dragons scored 47 points in the final 24 minutes and won, 64-57.
The Dragons (3-6) shot 63.2 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game. Sophomore Damion Lee had 21 points for Drexel.
Princeton, the preseason Ivy favorite, is just 3-5, but better than that. Drexel is also way better than its record and this win could get the Dragons started on the road back.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT?
UCLA and Texas played at Reliant Stadium. Was somebody trying to reprise UCLA-Houston in the Astrodome, which is now dwarfed by Reliant. They filled the dome back in the late 1960s for that made-for-TV classic. There was an announced crowd of 2,797 at Reliant, which means there were more empty seats in the arena than for any basketball game in history, a record to be proud of. By the way, UCLA won, 65-63, in a battle of two underachieving teams.
WHEN DOES THE SECOND HALF START?
Georgetown beat Towson, 46-40, a week after beating Tennessee, 37-36. The Hoyas, who took Indiana to overtime before losing, must be good, but seriously, is scoring that hard?
How about Towson? A season after 1-31, the Tigers are 4-5.
UNBEATEN IN KENTUCKY
Twenty seasons after his senior year as La Salle captain, coach Jeff Neubauer has the only unbeaten team in the commonwealth. Eastern Kentucky is 9-0. It will get a bit more complicated next Sunday at unbeaten Illinois, winners of the Maui Invitational and the only team to beat Gonzaga.
SPEAKING OF UNBEATENS
A month into the season, 14 teams are unbeaten - Duke, Syracuse, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Wichita State, Arizona, Cincinnati, Wyoming, New Mexico, LSU, Charlotte and Eastern Kentucky. It is no coincidence that three of the teams are from the Big Ten, a conference that surely could get multiple teams to Atlanta for the Final Four.
DJ'S TOP 15
1. Duke (9-0): Beat Temple, 90-67. Nobody has played against tougher competition (Louisville, Ohio State, Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU). Lots of answers at both ends.
2. Indiana (9-0): Cody Zeller had 19 points and 19 rebounds as Hoosiers overwhelmed Central Connecticut State, 100-69.
3. Florida (7-0): Nobody has been able to stay within double figures against the Gators. Play at unbeaten Arizona on Saturday.
4. Louisville (8-1): Russ Smith had a career-best 31 points in 99-47 win over UMKC. Shot 56 percent. Gotten 34 steals in last two games.
5. Michigan (9-0): All five starters got double figures in 80-67 win over Arkansas. Have incredible floor balance with dangerous scorers all over the court.
6. Ohio State (6-1): Buried Long Beach State, 89-55. Only loss was at Duke.
7. Syracuse (8-0): Blew away poor Monmouth, 108-56. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams had a line for the ages - 15 points, 16 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks in just 26 minutes.
8. Illinois (10-0): Brandon Paul (35 points) looked like an NBA All-Star as his team went to unbeaten Gonzaga where nobody wins and won convincingly, 85-74.
9. Wichita State (9-0): Major roster turnover, but still a force. Beat Northern Colorado, 80-54, while shooting 12-for-24 from the arc. Have wins over VCU and Iowa.
10. Kansas (7-1): Still owns Colorado, even if Buffs have changed leagues. After 90-54 win, it is 19 straight and 46 of 47.
11. New Mexico (10-0): Steve Alford's team is solid again in a very strong Mountain West. Beat Valparaiso, 65-52.
12. Gonzaga (9-1): Could not deal with Brandon Paul, but still has a lot of weapons.
13. San Diego State (7-1): Only loss to Syracuse on the aircraft carrier. Games with New Mexico should be
14. Southern Methodist (8-1): Larry Brown really is the greatest.