Jalen Brunson's career night guides No. 1 Villanova by Temple

By Andy Jasner, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 11:30 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- Villanova coach Jay Wright said the formula for winning 22 consecutive Big 5 games is easy to explain.

"I know this sounds simple, but we've had a run of very, very good players that have remained in the program," Wright said. "We have had outstanding players over a run. I hope to god they keep coming."

Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 31 points, and No. 1 Villanova swept the Big 5 portion of its schedule for the fifth consecutive season with an 87-67 victory over Temple on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Brunson shot 11 of 16, 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, and added six rebounds and five assists. His father, Rick, sat behind the Villanova bench. Rick Brunson was a standout guard for Temple in the 1990s.

"I try to keep the same mentality, the same approach," Jalen Brunson said. "I try to be aggressive, play my game and be a killer. I just want to play Villanova basketball."

Omari Spellman added a career-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and Donte DiVincenzo had 12 points for the Wildcats, who won their 22nd in a row in Big 5 games against Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Penn.

Villanova (11-0) shot a sizzling 60 percent from the field.

With starting guard Phil Booth struggling due to flu-like symptoms despite playing 25 minutes, Brunson came out aggressive and maintained that approach all night.

"It was incredible," Wright said. "He can do that every night. It's not a surprise to us. With Phil Booth being (sick), I knew he was going to be more aggressive."

Quinton Rose led Temple (6-3) with a career-high 27 points while Josh Brown added 12. Shizz Alston Jr. had 10.

Villanova jumped out to a 46-29 advantage at halftime and never looked back.

"We've watched it often," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of Villanova's quick start. "They're a team that goes on killer runs."

The Wildcats maintained a 15-point lead early in the second half and extended it 56-36 following five points by Spellman on a three-point play and a short jumper.

Temple crept back within 64-50 but Spellman came right back with a clutch jumper from the baseline for a 16-point lead with 8:11 remaining.

Spellman continued his stellar play with a spinning runner off the backboard for a 72-52 lead with 6:20 left.

Villanova hit 11 of its first 18 shots in the second half, and the game was essentially over.

"You can't make a mistake," Dunphy said. "When you do, they take great advantage of it."

After falling behind 25-5, the Owls got the raucous sellout home crowd behind them with a 16-3 run to close within 28-21.

Villanova responded with nine consecutive points, including the fifth 3-pointer by Brunson, to push the advantage to 37-21.

Brunson led all scorers with 22 points at halftime while the Wildcats shot 59 percent.

Locked In. 🔒 #RoadAttitude

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NOTES: Temple is 2-18 all-time against the top-ranked team with losses in three consecutive seasons to the Wildcats. ... Temple was the last Big 5 team to defeat Villanova, 76-61 on Dec. 5, 2012. ... Villanova G Collin Gillespie remains out with a left wrist injury. He is expected to miss at least two to three weeks. ... Villanova is off until Dec. 22 when it plays Hofstra on Long Island. ... The high-profile game brought the likes of Philadelphia 76ers G Ben Simmons and coach Brett Brown to the crowd.

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