November 30, 2016
PHILADELPHIA — Kris Jenkins already made the biggest basket in Villanova history, so he can be excused a bit that he was unaware he was so close to a career points milestone.
Assigned to shoot free throws after Penn was whistled for a technical foul, Jenkins stood alone at the line and sank the first one for career point 999. He calmly made the second attempt and hit No. 1,000.
Jenkins was mobbed by teammates and buried in confetti when his 3-pointer at the buzzer beat North Carolina for the national championship. For his little slice of Villanova history, Jenkins simply hustled back on defense.
"It doesn't mean much," he said.
Coach Jay Wright was surprised as well after the game and gave Jenkins a hearty congratulatory slap on the back at the press conference table.
With little fanfare or championship parades, the magic numbers keep piling up at Villanova.
Jenkins hit six 3s and scored 22 points and No. 2 Villanova again flexed its Philly muscle at the famed Palestra and dominated Penn 82-57 on Tuesday night.
Already the national champs, the Wildcats (7-0) proved its still the best in the Big 5. Villanova, Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Temple have had its rivalry games intertwined in the fabric of Philadelphia sports for 61 years.
No team has made the series their own like the Wildcats. They beat the Quakers (2-3) for the 14th straight time and settled in for another round-robin romp with its record 15th straight Big 5 victory.
Wright downplayed the significance of the record.
"If we're thinking about it, it's not going to help us get better," he said.
Get better? The Wildcats played about as well as they could against an underwhelmed Ivy League team, making 12 of 26 3s overall. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half and quickly squashed any thought Penn would become this week's version of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.
"I don't mean to slight their talent, but there's a lot more talented teams in the country; not a ton, but there's a good share, more length, more size, more speed, depth, skill," Penn coach Steve Donahue said. "But there's no team that plays together, and that hard, in every aspect of the game."
The Quakers won the opening tip, the students that packed the Palestra roared, they missed their first shot — and Jenkins buried a 3 on the other end. Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3, so did Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart added one and the Wildcats led 40-22.
Jenkins hit three of Villanova's seven 3-pointers in the first half to put this one away in a hurry. Hart, who had 12 points and nine assists, had his right hand wrapped in ice after the game. He may have jammed his thumb.
DiVincenzo scored 13 points and Darryl Reynolds had 12 points and eight boards.
Jackson Donahue led Penn with 12 points.
Penn: The Quakers never quit in front of a student section wearing red "Beat Nova" T-shirts. The Quakers could be contenders to make the first Ivy League tournament in Donahue's second season.
Donahue didn't think Villanova's city dominance crippled overall enthusiasm for the Big 5.
"I think it motivates and inspires the other four programs," he said. "If we won tonight, I don't know we'd be saying that. All these games, I think it's incredible. I'm proud to be part of the Big 5 and have a national champion in our (city). I think it elevates all of us."
Villanova: The Wildcats won their eighth straight game over Penn at the Palestra. The Wildcats are the first reigning NCAA champions to play at the famed basketball gym on the Penn campus since, well, Villanova on Jan. 27, 1986. The Wildcats play two more games against Philly teams before a Dec. 10 game against Notre Dame that could prove their next toughest test.
Villanova should stay at No. 2 in the Top 25.
Wright has never been shy about sitting starters for the slightest rules infractions. He benched Hart, the preseason Big East player of the year, for the start of his one because he was tardy to a workout session. DiVincenzo started for Hart.
Penn: The Quakers face another tough city rival Saturday at Temple.
Villanova: The Wildcats try and keep their Big 5 winning streak rolling Saturday at Saint Joseph's.
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