All-American candidate Josh Hart is a tough guard for any player in the country. Freshman Quinton Rose of Temple (7-4) found this out the hard way in Temple’s 78-57 loss to No. 1 Villanova (11-0) on Tuesday night at the Pavilion.
Whether driving into the paint for a layup, passing through traffic or defending on the perimeter, Hart made Rose’s night miserable and forgettable as Temple’s blossoming star couldn’t get anything going the entire game.
Rose finished with just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting along with four turnovers. As a team, Temple had a season high of 18 turnovers.
“Hart was Josh Hart there,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said following the loss. “In the second half, those couple of threes he made were daggers for us. And we didn’t have a whole lot of opportunity to respond.”
Hart finished with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting and wreaked havoc on the defensive end all night. He’s averaging 20.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists on the season and has the Wildcats running on all cylinders.
“When I have coach [Jay Wright] on me, [associate head coach] Baker Dunleavy on me and my teammates are holding me accountable, I’m just focused on making the right play,” Hart said postgame. “It’s not like coming off a good game, I have to put up 25, or I have to do this or do that. I just try to have a clear mind about things.”
Nothing was working in the Owls’ favor all night as junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who entered the contest averaging 18.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, was held to a season low of eight points on 3-of-9 shooting himself to go along with six turnovers.
“I think we did a great job on [Enechionyia],” Wright said. “We did a good job on him. I think he’s one of the best players in the country, I really do. We really wanted to try to limit his touches.”
Temple will have to brush off the loss quickly as they face what many would call a trap game on Saturday against NJIT (5-6). The Highlanders are fielding one of the top scorers in the country of their own in guard Damon Lynn, who’s averaging 22.0 points per game.
Saturday’s game will air at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.