Villanova 87, Temple 67: Five quick observations

Josh Brown, left, of Temple and Eric Paschall of Villanova go after a loose ball in the 1st half at Liacouras Center at Temple University on Dec. 13, 2017.

This was the third year in row that Temple has played a Villanova basketball team that was No. 1 in the nation at the time. Villanova jumped out to an early lead and didn’t let up during an 87-67 win over Temple at the Liacouras Center.

Here are some quick takes from the win that improved Villanova to 11-0.

Wildcats calm as ever

Temple needed to play a near perfect game to be competitive. The Owls started by committing three turnovers before they scored their first point. That set the tone and put the Owls trailing by 20 midway through the first half. The difference is that Temple appeared tight early, playing before a packed house against the nation’s No. 1 team. For Villanova, a team accustomed to this type of atmosphere, it was just another day on the basketball court. The Wildcats were calm and composed and it showed. Even when Temple got to within seven in the first half, the Wildcats then extended the lead to 17 points by halftime.

Jay Wright’s good defensive move

Villanova coach Jay Wright had a masterful move by using his best defender Mikal Bridges on Temple point guard Josh Brown to start the game. Brown is only Temple’s fourth leading scorer, but he is very important in setting up the offense. With the length of the 6-foot-8 Bridges, even making entry passes was difficult. In the second half, Bridges moved more to guarding Quinton Rose, after the Temple sophomore score 13 points in the first half.

Only one of Temple’s big three came through

Temple needed a big game from its top three scorers, Shizz Alston, Rose, and Obi Enechionyia to be competitive. As it turned out, it was only one out of three for Temple in the first half, which is why the Owls trailed by 17 at intermission. The one positive was Rose, who scored 13 points in the first half, making all three of his three point attempts, one well beyond NBA range. Enechionyia and Alston, on the other hand were a combined 1 for 11 from the field. Temple never got back in the game over the final 20 minutes. Rose ended up with a career high 27 points.

No answer for Spellman

One reason Villanova is No. 1 is that several players have the ability to take over a game. Against Temple it was 6-9 redshirt freshman Omari Spellman, who entered the game averaging nine points and ended with a career high 27. Spellman hit 11 of 14 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range.

One cool customer

Is there a cooler customer than Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson? In fact this was an interesting matchup of old-school point guards with Brown guarding Brunson. Neither relies on blinding speed but both have a basketball IQ that is off the charts. Brunson never seems in a hurry, can get his shot off quicker than most realize and plays the game at his pace, while also controlling the tempo of the game. Brunson entered the game shooting 51 percent from three-point range. He has the ability to buy himself space and he doesn’t need much room to launch his shot. In the first half he had 22 points, shooting 8 of 10 from m the field and 5 of 7 from three-point range and none of the shots were forced. The fact that it came mainly against Brown, Temple’s best defender, made it more impressive. Brunson ended with a career-high 31.