Brunson instead chose Villanova.
On Wednesday night, he showed Temple and its fans what could have been had he chosen to suit up for the cherry and white.
Brunson poured in a career-high 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting to lead #1 Villanova to a dominant 83-67 win over Temple, clinching the Big 5 title in the process.
“It was just one of those games, where they were taking Arch away from us, they did a great job on Josh Hart and they did a good job on (Kris) Jenkins,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. “That’s why I think (Phil) Booth and Jalen (Brunson) really got it going. I think he (Jalen) just took the plays that came to him. I don’t think it was anything different than he normally does, I think he just got a lot of opportunities tonight.”
Villanova would extend its lead to as much as 14 before heading to the half with a comfortable 35-23 lead behind eight points from Brunson and sophomore guard Phil Booth, respectively.
In the second half, the Wildcats would waste little time in putting the game out of reach, stretching their lead to 21 on a three by Brunson with 13:14 remaining in the game.
The Owls would eventually claw their way back to within 11, but the Wildcats would show the poise that makes them the top team in the nation, weathering the storm and picking up an 83-67 win.
“It was a very good win for us against a very good team,” Wright said. “I’m sure everybody here was thinking the same thing we were in the second half. We’ve seen them come back from those deficits against Tulsa, against UConn. When they get hot like that from three, it’s scary. I think we withstood that and that was really important and we made some great plays against their press. They’re a very good team. To win on the road in this environment, a great college basketball environment, is really good for our team.”
Brunson led the way in the win, scoring a career-high 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“I came into this game with the same mentality as I do every game,” Brunson said. “Coach preaches to treat every game the same, treat every game with the same preparation, same mentality, and that’s what I did. I ended up with some plays and made the right plays at the right moment.”
Daniel Ochefu added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, while Kris Jenkins and Phil Booth pitched in 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Temple would see one of its own freshman break out in the game as well, as Trey Lowe scored a career-high 21 points in the loss. Unfortunately for the Owls, Lowe’s performance would be overshadowed in a dominant win by the Wildcats.
“There is nothing like playing a road game in the Big 5,” Wright said. “We play all those games early purposely, because they’re going to prepare us for the Big East. A road game in the Big 5 is as tough as any Big East game on the road, sometimes tougher.”
Villanova will now return to Big East play, hosting Butler on Saturday. Temple will return to action on Sunday, as the Owls visit Houston.
By: Kyle Babcock
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