Villanova’s Brunson, Spellman dominate Temple with career performances

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Omari Spellman /

Villanova continued their undefeated streak against Temple with stellar play from Jalen Brunson and Spellman who combined for 58 of Villanova’s 87 points.

After being ranked the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll, all eyes were on the Villanova Wildcats as they took the short trip to play their Big Five rival, the Temple Owls.

With six undefeated teams left in the country, and a close game against La Salle on Sunday, there was a slight fear that Villanova could suffer the same fate as Duke by receiving their first loss of the season. With wins against Clemson, Auburn, and South Carolina to go along with a record of 6-2, Temple looked like the team that could pull off the upset, that was until minutes after tip-off, when Jalen Brunson took over.

In the opening minutes, the Wildcats got the ball rolling with a Brunson layup. Omari Spellman followed that up with a jumper near the baseline and then Mikal Bridges hit a deep three-point shot. Three minutes into play, Villanova was already 3-of-4 from the field and up 7-0.

Minutes later, with the Owls unable to produce anything offensively, Brunson, with a head of steam ,drove to the rim, spun around to shake off the defender, and let the ball slide off his fingertips into the net. On the ensuing possession, after Temple missed another layup, Donte DiVincenzo passed to Brunson who hit a contested 3 and shut down the Owl fans. Brunson was on his own 7-0 run as Villanova was up 17-4. Luckily, all of these factors put to rest any talk of a potential upset by Temple.

At the end of the first half, Villanova was up 46-29. Brunson had 22 points, four assists, three rebounds, and was 8-for-10 from the field (5-for-7 from beyond the arc).

In the second half, all eyes were on Brunson, as he often drew the double team, but was fine dishing it to Spellman, who went on his own second half tear. Spellman was everywhere, as he shot from all areas of the floor, whether it was a contested jump shot or an open three-pointer. No matter where he was on the floor, Spellman was sinking all sorts of shots. He also contributed with high ball screens and clutch rebounds, as he was fluid in all ball movement. All things considered, it really was a spectacular performance from the freshman.

Spellman finished the game with 27 points to go along with eight rebounds, and two assists, as he was 11-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-7 from deep. Brunson finished with 31 points, to go along with six rebounds, and five assists, all while shooting 11-for-16 from the field ( 6-of-10 from three-point range).

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It is reassuring to know that Jay Wright has multiple weapons that can change a game. If Bridges is off, Brunson is there to take over. If Phil Booth isn’t 100 percent, DiVincenzo is capable of picking up the slack. The depth of this Villanova team is astounding and reaffirms why they’re the best team in the nation.

Villanova gets a long break before a battle with Hofstra on Dec. 22. After that, the Wildcats have two key games against DePaul (Dec. 27) and Butler (Dec. 30), as they look to continue building their case for being the No. 1 seed in the country.