The Owls (11-2) return two starters off last year's 22-12 team. Temple,
which has won seven straight and ranked in the top 25 for the first
time since November of 2001, is off to its best start since the 1993-94
team opened at 16-2.
Head coach Fran Dunphy's ball-controlled Owls rank third in the nation
in scoring defense (54.2 ppg), and fourth in three-point percentage
defense (.240) and fewest turnovers per game (10.5).
Temple averages 64.1 points per game, shoots 42.1 percent from the
field, 33.3 percent beyond the arc, and 63.7 percent at the free-throw
line. The Owls outrebound foes 38.0 to 34.4 per game.
Their two losses this season came at then-No. 19 Georgetown (46-45) in
the second game of the season on Nov. 17 and vs. St. Johns (55-48)
in a neutral site game at the Palestra in the final of the
Philly Hoop Group Classic on Nov. 28. The Owls, who were picked to
finish fifth in the preseason Atlantic-10 poll, have since exploded on
the national scene with their seven-game winning streak, including a
75-65 home victory over then-No. 3 Villanova on Dec. 13. Temple also
won at Miami (OH) and at Seton Hall.
Six-foot-four sophomore guard Juan Fernandez led Temple to a huge
victory over the Villanova Wildcats with a career-high 33 points. He
shot 11-of-15 from the field, including 7-of-9 from three-point range.
"Occasionally he does get unconscious and he was unconscious today,"
Dunphy said afterwards. "We are not going to win a game like that
without terrific play from a number of guys and Juan was exceptional
and that is what you need to beat a really good basketball team."
Temple is now coming off two wins this week against Bowling Green
(63-39) at home on Monday and at Northern Illinois (60-50) on
Wednesday. Fernandez led Temple with 26 points against NIU, while 6-4
sophomore guard Ryan Brooks added 19.
Temple finished December at 7-0, marking the first time the Owls have
swept the month of December since 1987-88, when they also went 7-0.
Now, they're ready to open January with a huge upset over Kansas.
"We stressed all through the week to stay focused," Brooks said after
the victory over Northern Illinois. "With three games this week, each
one was treated as the most important game of the year. (Now) we're
very excited for the opportunity we have and the position we've put
Co-captain Brooks leads Temple in scoring at 15.8 points per game. He
also adds 5.5 rebounds per game and has recorded 35 assists and 11
steals. Fernandez, who's scored more than 20 points in three of the
last four games, averages 14.3 points and has made a team-high 32
threes and dished out a team-best 46 assists. Six-foot-nine junior
center and preseason first-team A-10 selection Lavoy Allen is Temple's
big gun inside, averaging a double-double with 10.6 points and 10.6
rebounds per game. He also has a team-high 24 blocks.
Others contributing to the attack are 6-4 sophomore guard Ramone Moore
(5.3 ppg), 6-9 junior forward Craig Williams (5.2 ppg, 18 threes), 6-3
senior guard and co-captain Luis Guzman (4.5 ppg, No. 2 on team with 39
assists), 6-6 freshman forward Rahlir Jefferson (4.1 ppg), and 6-11
senior center Micheal Eric (3.6 ppg).
SELF ON THE OWLS
KU coach Bill Self knows it will be a huge challenge against Temple
after his Jayhawks' (12-0) lackluster performance against Belmont on
"This is by far — by triple — the hardest game we have played," Self
said. "First of all, Fran is a great coach. The other thing is the team
is good. They remind me of [former Oklahoma State] coach Eddie Sutton
because they just don't beat themselves. You have to go beat them. They
have had some impressive wins. They don't panic under pressure.
Villanova had them down by double figures and it didn't rattle them one
"They have lost two games and they were both basically last possession
games," Self added. "They play a style that will be great for us to go
against because they want to muddy it up and have it be an ugly game
and right now our guys definitely prefer a pretty game. So it will be
good for us to go in there because they will punch us in the mouth and
we have to find out if we are going to take it or if we are going to be
the first (to) lay the first lick.
"Hopefully we will be more ready to go. It is sold out and it will be a
This game marks the homecoming for KU sophomore twins and Philadelphia
natives Marcus and Markieff Morris. They starred at Prep Charter High
School in Philly and grew up 1.5 miles from the Liacouras Center. The
twins have played competitively twice at the Liacouras Center in the
city championship their junior and senior seasons at Prep Charter. They
won the 2007 city title over Simon Gratz High School.
Marcus and Markieff will have many friends and family at the game.
"It's the biggest homecoming I could ever have," Marcus Morris said.
This game features two of college basketball's richest traditions. KU
ranks third all time with 1,981 victories, while Temple is sixth at
Kansas leads the overall series with Temple 6-3. KU won the last
meeting, 71-59, in Allen Fieldhouse last season on Dec. 20, 2008. The
series dates back to 1940 when the Owls beat the Jayhawks, 40-35, in
Philadelphia. Five of the nine meetings have been played on neutral
In last year's game in the Phog, Sherron Collins led KU with 19 points,
while Cole Aldrich recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11
rebounds. Taylor and Brady Morningstar added 11 points each, while
Taylor paced KU with eight assists and four steals.
Current Owl Lavoy Allen had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
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