Jalen Brunson took the ball up the court, spun around Temple guard Quinton Rose and banked the ball off the glass to give the No.1 ranked Villanova Wildcats an early 10-point lead in Wednesday night’s Big Five clash at the Liacouras Center.
It was just two of Brunson’s career-high 31 points as the Wildcats (11-0) knocked off the Owls (6-3) in a convincing 87-67 victory.
“I try to keep the same mindset, try to set the tone defensively and play my game, be aggressive, try to be a killer,” Brunson said. “Today was one of those nights.”
Brunson was supposed to go to Temple. His father, former Temple star Rick Brunson, was set to be hired as an assistant coach.
Plans changed when Rick was charged with sexual assault. Jalen opted to go to Villanova instead.
Amid the endless taunts from the Temple faithful over his decision, Brunson has fed off the negativity. In two visits to the Liacouras Center, Brunson has averaged 28 points per game on a piping hot 20 of 27 (74%) shooting.
“All he’s done is win, win, win, make plays to win, play with great players and carry great teams,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “He’s amazing to me, he really is. I think he’s going to be very, very successful in the NBA, I really do.”
Villanova improved their Big Five winning streak to 22-straight games with their victory, a Big Five record. Redshirt freshman Omari Spellman added to the Cats’ party on North Broad by scoring a career-high 27 points of his own.
Rose was a lone bright spot for the Owls, notching a career-high of 27 points.
In 2004, the city rallied around 6-foot point guard Jameer Nelson who could seemingly do it all on the basketball court. At 6-foot-3, Brunson looks and plays similar to Nelson and he has Cats fans dreaming of another celebration down Lancaster Avenue come March.
They’ll face Hofstra next on December 22 (airing on FS1), before getting into Big East play against DePaul on December 27(on CBSSN).