Maalik Wayns had 21 points and eight assists, and the No. 8 Wildcats won a heavyweight showdown with Temple, beating the No. 25 Owls 78-74 on Thursday night.
Wayns helped the Wildcats (11-1) squash any chance of a second straight upset loss to the Owls. The unranked Owls stunned No. 3 Villanova last season and both teams were fired up this week for the rematch.
"I grew up with a lot of those guys, know those guys from high school, and last year they had the bragging rights for the whole year," Wayns said. "Now, I get to brag back to them."
The game was the first one between two Philly-area teams ranked in the Top 25 since No. 1 Temple defeated No. 20 Villanova 98-86 on Feb. 10, 1988, at McGonigle Hall, according to STATS LLC.
The Owls and Wildcats have distanced themselves from the other four D-I hoops programs in Philadelphia and made their games the only ones that matter in a city that takes pride in its deep basketball roots.
"It's just great for college basketball, great for Philadelphia basketball," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Corey Stokes scored 24 points and Mouphtaou Yarou had 14 points for the Wildcats in a game that lived up to its billing as the marquee matchup of the season in city hoops.
Lavoy Allen had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Owls (9-3). Juan Fernandez had a season-high 20 and Ramone Moore 16.
Allen, who played 40 minutes, buried an open 3 with 2.3 seconds left that cut it to 76-74 and gave Temple a flicker of hope. The Owls were seeking their seventh straight victory.
But Wayns did it all for the Wildcats, and was he ever needed with star guard Corey Fisher ineffective. Wayns clinched Villanova's sixth straight win from the line, capping a fantastic all-around game that included a 9-for-9 performance from the free-throw line.
"If I can get a lane to the basket or make a play for myself, I'll do that," Wayns said. "Mostly, I'm looking to make plays for everybody else."
Fisher came in averaging 15.5 points but ran into early foul trouble and was held to five.
Stokes bailed out the Wildcats as their sole long range threat. He hit all five of Villanova's 3-pointers while the rest of the team went 0 for 8.
"We talked all week about not leaving him open," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.
The Owls did and Stokes made them pay.
Wright raved about the Owls this week and they gave the Wildcats all they could handle. Temple seemed poised to bust the game open in the second half, much like it did last year.
After the Wildcats shook off a first-half shooting funk with a 16-5 run that helped build a 10-point lead, the Owls got going.
Playing at home, it seemed Wayns and the Wildcats might run away with the win.
The pesky Owls wouldn't go away.
Fernandez hit his fourth 3 in four attempts to trim Villanova's lead to seven. Scootie Randall hit Temple's season-high ninth 3 to cap a 13-0 run for a 60-57 lead.
The Wildcats then found their shooting grove in their final nonconference game heading into the Big East opener on Jan. 2.
Stokes tied it at 60 on a 3 and Wayns went all the way through three defenders to bring the Wildcats back for a 67-62 lead.
They kept control - barely, at times - from there.
So sensational early, Fernandez took a series of ill-advised shots and eventually fouled out. Fernandez, who scored 33 points against the Wildcats last season, blamed fatigue and late-game pressure for his poor finish.
Dunphy lamented Temple's "poor decisions" down the stretch.
"If we all make one better play toward the end of the game, maybe we're on the different side of the ledger," Dunphy said.
The Owls, who fell out of Top 25 earlier this year, returned to the ranking this week thanks to a lengthy winning streak highlighted by a 68-65 win over then-No. 9 Georgetown.
Like last season's 75-65 victory when the Owls buried 50 percent of their 3s, the long-range shooting was the difference early. Moore and Fernandez hit 3s in the first half that each gave the Owls a five-point lead. The Owls stretched it to eight and carried a 40-39 lead into halftime.
"If we want to be good at the end of the season, get to the tournament and win some games, we've got to beat teams like Villanova," Fernandez said.
The Wildcats, 4-0 in city games this season, have a 43-game winning streak at their campus home and Temple hasn't won here since 1990.
"Going into this game, we hadn't really played well against a really good team," Wright said. "We wanted to see. Let's see where we are. I feel good about where we are."