Temple-St. Joe's aftermath

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - One of my main rules when watching college basketball is that if a team is up by 10 points with a minute to play, the game is not necessarily over.

I have believed that since the night of January 27, 2001, and those of you who follow the ACC know exactly why.

You probably remember it too: Maryland held a 10-point lead over Duke with 55 seconds left in the game, and the red sea at Cole Field House was roaring in anticipation of a big win.

But somehow or other, the Blue Devils came back. Duke's Nate James tied the game with two free throws, then Shane Battier won it in overtime with a three-pointer and a blocked shot on the final possession.

Even though eight years have gone by, the memories of that night are still seared in the minds of a generation of Terrapins fans and so many others who follow the game.

So I'm not surprised when a team makes a late rally and gets itself a legitimate chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds.

The descent into chaos went something like this: a big three by Darrin Govens that started the momentum, a freshman and a big man making all the late trips to the free throw line for Temple, and Tasheed Carr slashing through the lane for two layups and an assist.

And oh yeah, the Palestra's best crowd of the season by far.

It all set up a stunningly straightforward chance for the Hawks to tie or win the game with 4.7 seconds left.

But Phil Martelli was just surprised as everyone else that Carr let fly a three from just inside the halfcourt line when he had, as Martelli said, "another two dribbles" to get closer to the basket.

In a way, shooting that early could be considered a good thing, because Garrett Williamson had enough time to get off a shot from the rebound.

Still, you wonder. But it's probably not worth wondering too much, because the fact that St. Joe's was even there at the end was remarkable in and of itself.

Maybe the ghosts were offended by the possibility of a team winning by double digits.

Speaking of ghosts, there might be a few in the house on Saturday night for the Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremonies. Unfortunately, I won't be there, but I was able to get Fran Dunphy's thoughts last night on former Penn star Jerome Allen's induction.

"It's great - it's fabulous, really, to be honest with you," Dunphy said. "He's certainly deserving of it and now he's obviously had a chance to be there live, which is what I think had been the delay in recent years. So I'm really thrilled."

Dunphy will attend tonight's private reception for the honorees, but Temple's game at Duquesne will keep him away from tomorrow's public ceremony at halftime of the St. Joe's-La Salle game.

I asked Dunphy if Allen was the best player he had in his 17 years at Penn.

"Just overall, yeah," Dunphy said. "He had that something special about him that many people don't have. And then of course the surrounding parts with him were magnificent. Matt Maloney had a fabulous college basketball career, and everybody else picked up the pieces - they knew what their roles were."

As I looked over the Temple-St. Joe's box score, I thought about all the talk coming in about Christmas vs. Nivins and all that. From my viewpoint, I don't think either player answered the question definitively last night.

Nivins scored 21 points, and you cannot overlook his perfect 7-for-7 free throw shooting. If you're an opposing coach trying to design a defensive strategy for Nivins, it has to scare the daylights out of you that he can convert like that if you foul him in the lane.

Christmas scored 19 points, but was only 2-for-5 from three-point range. That was all Garrett Williamson, and indeed Christmas scored a lot of his points when Williamson wasn't on the floor.

But Christmas gets the nod for Line of the Game because of his contributions elsewhere in the box score. In fact, he got more rebounds than Nivins did.

So the Owls take Round 1. The rematch on North Broad Street will be on the last Thursday of the regular season, and this time it will count in the Big 5 standings.

I don't know how much more I'll be posting this weekend, but feel free to post your comments on tonight's Villanova-West Virginia game and tomorrow's A-10 action while I'm gone.

And if you're still looking for ways to pass some time, check out Kyle Whelliston's impressively detailed reporting from the NCAA's mock bracket event in Indianapolis yesterday.

D. Christmas