By Sam Spiegelman
Temple Owls (4-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Maryland Terrapins (6-2, 0-0 ACC)
Sun., Dec. 5
8 p.m., Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
This is the first meeting between the team is almost four years. In 2006, Temple upset the then-ranked No. 18/19 Terps on their home court 91-85. Owls head coach Fran Dunphy used to serve as an assistant on Gary Williams staff. He has lost twice to Williams, both of which came while he served as the head coach at Penn.
The Terps and Owls have met nine times, with the series even at four apiece. Home-court advantage has historically been the difference; each team is unbeaten at home and split games on neutral courts.
The Temple Owls return three starters from their 2009 Atlantic 10 title-winning team, the third in as many years, and finished No. 12 in the country. The aftermath: the Owls earned a Top 25 ranking for the first time in a decade
Senior forward Lavoy Allen becomes the focal point of the team with the losses of the teams senior co-captains. Allen is the first Owl to average a double-double since Ollie Johnson did in 1970-1971, averaging over 11 points and nearly 11 boards. This season Allens numbers have dropped – 10.2 ppg with 6.3 rpg.
In six games, the Owls have held each of their opponents to under 60 points per content, including a Texas A&M ranked fifth in the Big 12 in scoring (79.5 ppg) and a George team averaging nearly 70 points per game. Temples solid defense is the best in the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 54.5 ppg and is holding their opponents to a 36-percent field-goal percentage.
After earning The Most Outstanding Player of the year in the conference last year, junior Juan Fernandez: moved to his natural point guard position this season. Temples leading returning scorer is averaging 11 ppg, second on the team, and 2.7 apg, which is tied for first. The 6-4 Argentina native recorded a season-best 18 points in his last matchup against Central Michigan, a game in which he shot 50 percent from the field and 4-7 from the three-point line.
Coming being the Sixth Man of the Year in the Atlantic 10, junior guard Ramone Moore is now a starter for Temple, and has emerged as their leading scorer, averaging nearly 12 ppg in about 30 minutes of action. In 11 career starts, the Philadelphia native has scored in double-figures nine times, including a 16-point effort in the teams last game against Central Michigan.
The three starting forwards – Allen, Scootie Randall and Micheal Eric -- are averaging just a combined average of 17.1 rebounds game, barely half of the Owls game average. They are only winning the battle on the boards by about two, despite averaging about 6-7 in height in the frontcourt.
The Owls are shooting a mere 25 percent from downtown, with about four made-threes per game. The team has combined for just 23 three-pointers this season; in the Atlantic 10 Temple ranks dead last in their deep shooting percentage. Five teams in the conference have double the amount of made threes than Temple.
Like the Terps, the Owls have had their struggles from the charity stripe. Their 63-percent free-throw percentage is 10th in the conference, and is slightly worse than their opponent Sunday night who sports a mediocre 65 FT percentage.
Matching up with the Terps
In a matchup against the Cal Bears, the then-ranked No. 21 Owls played sloppy and could not hit open shots. Cal forced 16 turnovers, while Temple shot 33 percent from the field and under 11 percent from three-point range. This is the same Cal team that lost the following night to Notre Dame after scoring all of five total points in the first half, a modern era-record for lowest total at the half since the implementation of the shot clock.
Like the Bears, Maryland must push the bill defensively and force the Owls out of rhythm. Cal recorded nine dimes, outrebounded the Owls and capitalized on the free-throw line. Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory must play big inside, and expect 6-8 James Padgett to see some extra minutes to match up with Temple on the interior.
Keys to the Game
Limit Moore. The Owls are only as successful as their teams leading scorer. In six games thus far in 2010, Temple is 4-0 when Moore reaches double-digit point totals. Their two losses – Georgia and California – came when the opponent shut him down. Moore is averaging 14 points in the teams win, and a mere seven points in the teams losses.
Solid point guard play. The Terps have persisted through shaky point guard play all season between the inconsistent Adrian Bowie, and the growing pains from freshmen Terrell Stoglin and PeShon Howard. Head coach Gary Williams should continue riding the hot hand. Lately, it has been Stoglin, who has surpassed Bowie at the teams third-highest scorer.
Feed the big man. It seems obvious, but sometimes the Terps have strayed away from using their matchup-proof center Jordan Williams consistently. Williams is by far their most dangerous weapon and he showed that once again in the teams most recent road win against Penn State. Williams 15-11 effort was his sixth double-double on the season, and he seems poised for another against the Owls.
TV: MASN / FSN
Radio: Terrapins Sports Radio Network