It was Temple in years past that battled to prove its basketball program was on par with Villanova. Now, the Wildcats are the ones battling to prove they still belong among the city's elite programs, alongside the Owls.
That was obvious Wednesday night in Temple's 76-61 Big Five victory over Villanova at the Pavilion.
It marked the first time the Owls (6-0, 1-0 Big Five) have beaten the Wildcats (4-4, 0-2) in their home gym since 1990, a span of six games.
Temple put the game away with an 18-2 run during the first 61/2 minutes of the second half. Villanova, meanwhile, committed 20 turnovers in the game.
"If you look at their roster, they've got five guys who are seniors," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "And two of those guys [Scootie Randall and T.J. DiLeo] have played five years of college basketball [at Temple]. They've been coached by [Owls coach] Fran [Dunphy] for a number of years. They've paid their dues."
Wright realizes his youthful squad is doing that now.
The Wildcats are 0-2 in City Series games for the first time since Wright's first season at 'Nova in 2001-02. This also marks the Wildcats' first .500 record after eight games since the 1997-98 season.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Wright said. "We've got to get through games like this and learn."
Temple, meanwhile, is undefeated through six games for the first time since the 1987-88 season. And for the Owls, this season is about having fun, remaining loose on and off the court.
At the suggestion of teammate Dalton Pepper, Owls center Anthony Lee got an interesting haircut the night before the game. The sophomore had "T," "U," and "3" shaved onto the left side of his head.
"I just thought, 'Do something to represent the school,' " said Lee, whose jersey number is 3. "We got the victory. So I just think it will bring more publicity to our school."
Randall, who scored a game-high 21 points, said Lee's haircut is something that helps the team bond.
"If you are not having fun while you are out there, you are not bonding with your teammates," Randall said. "So I think that's the relationship that we established this year.
"And as you see, we come together when we need to and get the job done."