Preview: Duke (12-1) vs. Temple (6-5)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Owls who tip off in Cameron on Tuesday night in a non-conference battle.


5 Duke (12-1) vs. Temple (6-5)
Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
7:00 p.m., espn2

Program Vitals
Conference: Atlantic 10
Nickname: Owls
Colors: Cherry, White and Black 
Head Coach:   Fran Dunphy  (1st year)
Career Record at Holy Cross: 6-5 (315-168 Overall - 18 years)

Projected Starters:
22 Donte Christmas (6-4, 195, So.) – 20.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 apg
 3 Dustin Salisbery (6-5, 205, Sr.) – 17.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apg
14 Sergio Olmos (7-0, 220, So.) – 4.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg
13 Matt Tyndale (6-5, 210, Jr.) – 14.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 spg
 4 Dion Dacons (6-6, 210, Sr.) – 6.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg

Key Reserves:
32 DaShone Kirkendoll (6-5, 210, Jr.) – 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg
15 Semaj Inge (6-4, 180, So.) – 4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg
 1 Chris Clark (5-8, 165, Jr.) – 2.4 ppg, 2.6 apg

Storylines:

Series History:
Tuesday night's game between the Owls and Blue Devils will mark the 24th such meeting between the two programs. Duke holds a 15-9 all-time advantage against Temple, and an 8-1 overall record against the Owls under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Temple head coach Fran Dunphy will be making his second coaching appearance at Cameron. Dunphy took his Penn Quakers to the historic venue last year, falling 72-59 on December 7. Temple's last win against Duke came on January 25, 1996, a 59-58 decision at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Blue Devils have won six straight since then.

How They Will Enter The Match Up:
Since losing to Marquette Duke has reeled off eight straight victories and now sits as the nation's No. 5 team in both the AP and USA Today Coaches' Poll. Duke returned to the court on Sunday afternoon against San Jose State after a 10 day layoff and struggled for a while before dispatching the 1-11 Spartans 70-51. Temple will be looking to get back on the winning path, having dropped an 83-65 decision to Villanova on Saturday. The Owls' biggest win of the season came over Rutgers (77-54). The Blue Devils and Owls have faced one common opponent this season in the form of Kent State. The Owls were defeated by the Golden Flashes 63-54 in the first game of the season, while Duke came away victorious over KSU, 79-72.

Injury Report:
The Blue Devils could be without 6-foot-8 starting big forward Lance Thomas, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury. For Temple, senior forward Dion Dacons, the Owls' leading rebounder (7.3 rpg.), re-sprained his right foot midway through the second half. Dacons, who grabbed a team-high 10 boards in the contest, is day-to-day in terms of his status for the Duke game.

Same Program; Different Look:
Fran Dunphy has the unenviable task of replacing legendary Hall of Fame head coach John Chaney. Chaney graced the Owl sidelines for 24 years, guiding the Cherry and White to 516 wins and 23 straight postseason tournament berths. The Owls advanced to the NCAA Tournament 17 times under Chaney, including five Elite Eight appearances. Dunphy, the first person to coach two Big 5 schools in the storied history of Philadelphia basketball, compiled 310 wins, 10 Ivy League titles and nine NCAA bids in his 17 years at Penn.

Devilish Needed Defense To Stop Christmas:
The most explosive scorer on the Owl roster is 6'4 sophomore scoring guard Dionte Christmas. The Atlantic 10 Conference's leading scorer (20.8 ppg.), posted his ninth 20-point game of the season with a 22-point effort at Villanova. Christmas was joined in double figures by fellow Owl guards Mark Tyndale (14.4 ppg.) and Dustin Salisbery (17.2 ppg.), who tallied 16 and 14 points, respectively. Christmas has taken over from the departed Mardy Collins, who Duke fans may well remember from last season when he torched the Duke defense for 26 points in 31 minutes while holding Duke star J.J. Redick to a season low 11 points. Christmas was named co-Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week for the week ending December 17 and Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week for games ending December 2. Besides scoring, he leads Temple and ranks among the A-10 leaders in the following categories: field goal percentage (4th, .541), free throw percentage (4th, .887), three-pointers made (3rd, 2.71 pg.) and three-point percentage (7th, .429).

A Big Shot In the Arm:
The Owls got a big boost when junior guard Mark Tyndale was declared eligible to compete on the men's basketball team on December 15 and looked like he had not missed a beat the next day when he came off the bench to score 14 points and grab eight rebounds in the team's 75-70 win over Towson. Tyndale, who sat out the first semester due to academic eligibility guidelines, led the Owls with a 5.1 rebound average during the 2005-06 season while placing third on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg.) This season he has improved those numbers in a big way, averaging 14.4 points, 5.2 rebounds while playing 28.0 minutes per game off the bench.

Valuing The Basketball:
One thing the Owls have long prized is taking care of the basketball and not committing silly turnovers. Temple led the nation in fewest turnovers per game for the fourth straight season in 2005-06, averaging a school-record 7.7 per contest. In John Chaney's 24 years at Temple, the Owls have averaged 10 turnovers or less 12 times. With a new offensive system being installed by Dunphy (he runs a motion offense), Temple has still had fewer turnovers than its opponent in nine of 11 games this season and are tied with Charlotte for the Atlantic 10 lead with a 13.4average. Temple also ranks 14th nationally.

Who's Next?:
With the victory over San Jose State, the Blue Devils have now won 50 straight games against non-conference opponents - the longest such streak in the country. Duke is a remarkable 180-3 (.980) over the last 183 games against opponents not from the ACC at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

McRoberts Impacting the Game:
Against the Spartans, sophomore Josh McRoberts scored 15 points, grabbed a career high 17 rebounds, handed out a team best five assists, and blocked three shots. In the last three games, McRoberts is averaging 15.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 4.0 blocks and 2.3 steals per game.

Can't Spell Duke Without D:
Despite some severe offensive troubles to this point in the season, the Blue Devils have won 12 of 13 games thanks to their defensive abilities. Duke is holding teams to just 51.0 points per game, third best in the nation. In 11 of the 13 games, Duke opponents haven't topped 56 points. The Blue Devils are also out-rebounding opponents more routinely than in recent memory, winning the battle of the boards in 11 of the 13 games this season.

Some Minor History Should Duke Win
Should Duke defeat Temple on Tuesday night, it would mark the 51st straight victory over a non-conference opponent; be the program's 1,809th overall victory (4th best in history); 224th win this decade (2000-2007); and the 700th win at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It would also be Coach K's 766th all time victory, leaving him just one short of ninth place on the all-time list (Henry Iba 767).

Prediction:
Duke 68
Temple 56


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