AROUND THE CITY

SO MUCH FOR CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Villanova's early Big East road schedule looked manageable with games at DePaul and Cincinnati. Well, the Wildcats played poorly and lost at DePaul and now have given up a late lead to lose at Cincinnati, 69-66.

Scottie Reynolds (32 points) more than did his part for the 'Cats (11-3, 1-2 Big East). Rashad Bishop won it for Cincy (8-8, 3-1) with a late three, his only basket of the game. Reynolds' potential game-tying three was just long at the buzzer.

WHAT IT MEANS

'Nova does not have any eye-opening non-conference wins and it is hard to say what the win over Pittsburgh, playing without two starters, means at this point. Opportunity is still there, but it has gotten more complicated than it seemed when the New Year began.

HAWKS WIN AGAIN

Saint Joseph's (9-4, 2-0 Atlantic 10) has won five straight after blasting Richmond (8-7, 1-1), 81-63, at the Fieldhouse. St. Joe's scored 15 of the first 17 points in the second half to break the game open.

The Hawks got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Pat Calathes, a double-double machine during the streak. Rob Ferguson was 7-for-11 from the field and scored 18 points. Garrett Williamson got to the free throw line 11 times and ended up with a career-high 16 points as the Hawks finally got some point production from the bench.

OWLS COME BACK, LOSE

Temple trailed at Charlotte, 33-16, late in the first half. With 90 seconds to go, the Owls (6-8, 0-1 A-10) led 55-52. They lost, 60-58, as Leemire Goldwire scored the last

11 points, including two killer threes, for Charlotte (10-5, 1-0).

Goldwire's two free throws with 13.5 seconds won it for Charlotte. Temple got 17 points from Mark Tyndale and held the 49ers to just 19 points over a 20-minute stretch. But 9-for-18 free throw shooting

and Goldmire's late threes kept Temple from breaking through.

During the Owls' comeback, Charlotte missed 18 of 22 shots. Then, at the end,

Goldwire did not miss.

EXPLORERS COME BACK, WIN

La Salle trailed by nine points at St. Bonaventure with 8 1/2 minutes left. What could have been another brutal loss turned into a gratifying win when the Explorers (5-9, 1-1 A-10) scored 18 consecutive points over 6 minutes to win, 72-61. The Bonnies (6-10, 0-2) are not good, but La Salle isn't choosy. Wins are good, no matter who it's against. Jerrell Williams had 15 points and 15 rebounds for La Salle.

DREXEL SCORES, IS SCORED ON

Well, Drexel got some points on the board at Towson. Unfortunately, Towson got more points on the board in an 86-77 win. Frank Elegar had 29 points and 11 rebounds for Drexel.

When the Dragons (8-9, 1-4 Colonial) score in the 70s, they usually are home. Not on a day when they allow Towson (6-9, 2-3) to shoot 50 percent overall and 10-for-19 from the arc.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY

MAKING SHOTS

Anybody think UCLA was going to shoot 57.7 percent and Washington State 52 percent in a battle of what looked like great defenses.

Wazu hit an insane seven threes in 81 seconds to make the game close late. UCLA led early, 26-8.

Texas A&M and Colorado combined to shoot 61-for-98 from the floor. The Princeton/Air Force/Georgetown offense, or whatever it is, lives at Colorado. By the way, A&M has been ranked for 31 consecutive weeks after being ranked in just 27 weeks ever before its ongoing run.

BEST FRESHMEN BATTLE

Big men Michael Beasley (Kansas State) and Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) put on a show in K-State's 84-82 win. Beasley (13-for-18) had 32 points and 11 rebounds. Griffin (10-for-14) had 17 points, 14 rebounds.

WEREN'T YOU MICHIGAN STATE?

The Spartans were ranked in the top 10. They had won 11 straight. They were playing at a very weak Iowa team. And lost 43-36. What?

MSU shot 16-for-52 (30.8 percent) with 18 turnovers. The Spartans were 1-for-4 from the foul line. Four free throw attempts? How is that possible?

Iowa was 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) from the field and 16-for-29 from the foul line. The Hawkeyes had just eight turnovers.

In a season where Savannah State got four in a half, Penn six and Saint Louis seven on its way to 20, I guess this shouldn't have been completely unexpected. But Michigan State with Tom Izzo, one of the best coaches in America? Hard to figure.

DOES NOT MATTER

Apparently, it does not matter whom Kansas plays or where it plays. Playing at Nebraska, which had been holding teams to 35.1 percent shooting (second nationally). KU shot 53.8 percent and led all the way.

The good news was that new Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini, just off the sidelines as LSU, was introduced at halftime.

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE

Memphis, Kansas and North Carolina still have not lost. Washington State and Vanderbilt finally did.

Vandy lost in two overtimes at Kentucky, 79-73. UK led, 46-30, with 14 minutes left, then won the second OT, 7-1.

Still, regardless of the result, something is wrong with a picture that has Vandy at 16-0 playing 6-7 Kentucky at Rupp.

LOVE HIS GAME

It is not often a player shows up in college with a great reputation, lives up to it immediately, and then starts to get better. That is Kevin Love's story. The UCLA freshman center is really, really good on his way quickly to great.

BEST TURNAROUND

Has to be Delaware. The Blue Hens won five games last season, Monte Ross' first as head coach.

After coming from way behind Wednesday to beat George Mason in overtime, UD beat Old Dominion, 81-74, in two overtimes to go to 5-0 in the CAA.

Life gets more difficult with consecutive road games at Virginia Commomwealth, Northeastern and James Madison. But, for a program looking for some life, 5-0 is 5-0 and UD is very much alive.

DICK JERARDI'S TOP 15

1. Memphis (15-0): Slogged through 68-45 win at Marshall, holding home team to 24 percent shooting in second half. Tigers got to the foul line just nine times. Coach Cal not pleased with that.

2. Kansas (16-0): Romped 79-58 at hot Nebraska. Brandon Rush (19 points, six rebounds, four assists) is best non-freshman NBA prospect.

3. North Carolina (17-0): North Carolina State waved white flag early as UNC won 93-62 and turned game into a NASCAR race. Tar Heels scored 25 straight points during the first half as State shot 6-for-34.

4. UCLA (16-1): What figured to be a slugfest with Washington State turned into an offensive explosion as the Bruins won at Pauley, 81-74. Kevin Love (27 points, 14 rebounds) was great.

5. Washington State (14-1): Lost a game, but not respect. School's record is now 1-50 at UCLA. Wazu had been giving up a nation's best 50.1 points and UCLA just 54.9.

6. Dayton (14-1): Brian Roberts had 30 points as the Flyers won at Saint Louis, 68-57, in OT. Billikens had 20 field goals after getting 20 points at George Washington Thursday. Returned to normal in OT, getting outscored 13-2.

7. Georgetown (11-1): That was an unguarded Roy Hibbert nailing a three (the second of his career) in the final seconds to give the Hoyas a 72-69 win over Connecticut, which shot 48.9 percent against nation's best field goal defense (34.6 percent).

8. Tennessee (14-1): Abused South Carolina 80-56 in Columbia. Deep, well-coached and fun to watch.

9. Texas A&M (15-1): Have won eight straight by at least 15 points after 86-69 win over Colorado.

10. Butler (16-1): Had just five turnovers in 72-56 win over UW Milwaukee. Very tough to beat.

11. Duke (13-1): Blew away Virginia last night, 87-65.

12. Xavier (14-3): Been playing lights out since the loss to Tennessee. Beat Fordham, 68-50.

13. Mississippi (14-1): Beat LSU 74-71. Only loss was by two points at Tennessee on Wednesday.

14. Indiana (14-1): Freshman Eric Gordon led the way again in a 62-58 win over Illinois yesterday.

15. Marquette (13-2): Nailed 12 of 24 threes in 92-66 rout of Notre Dame.