Conference affiliations often dictate when City Series games are played. The Atlantic 10 never plays any conference games until January so Temple’s Big 5 schedule is backloaded because two of the games are against A-10 teams (Saint Joseph’s and La Salle).
Conversely, Villanova does not have much room for anything but Big East games when the calendar hits January.
So, Temple will be playing its first City Series game on Dec. 30. Villanova will be playing its last. And, like last season, it will be the city Game of the Year.
The Wildcats are 3-0 in the Big 5, just like last season and nearly every other recent season. Perfect Big 5 seasons have been the norm. But not last season. Temple played a near perfect game, beat Villanova, 75-65, and went on to have a perfect City Series record.
After winning at Ohio, this Temple team has finished its MAC portion of the schedule 5-0. Assistant coach Matt Langel told me before the season that he thought this was the most talented Temple team since the staff came over from Penn.
The Ohio game explained a bit of what he meant. Temple got 32 points from bench players, Khalif Wyatt and Rahlir Jefferson. The pair, alums of PIAA AAAA powers Norristown and Chester, combined to shoot 12-for-15. Wyatt was 4-for-5 from the arc.
Temple is 9-2 yet has not been making long shots. When they start hitting from three, watch out. Juan Fernandez is the key player in the three watch.
Fernandez was the best shooter in the A-10 last season, making 73 of 161 (45.3 percent) from the arc. This season, Fernandez, after a move to point guard, is just 10-for-49 (20.4 percent) from three.