Hawks-Owls Preview

Only a little over seven miles separates Saint Joseph's University from Temple. The two schools square off Sunday afternoon in a rivalry that has been relatively even over recent years. The Hawks beat the Owls by a bucket last year at Hagan Arena, but this year have to make the drive into North Philadelphia. The 4-4 Owls will host the 6-2 Hawks Sunday afternoon at 4. A full preview is inside.

St. Joe's travels to Temple on Sunday coming off an ugly 62-50 home win over Princeton on Tuesday night. It was the second straight win over an Ivy League opponent for the Hawks, who also won at Columbia last Friday in their only true road game of the season to date.

The atmosphere Sunday afternoon inside the Liacouras Center will be significantly louder and more hostile than the ones the Hawks faced when they played at Columbia. While this doesn't appear, at least yet, to be one of Fran Dunphy's better Owl teams, they will have pieces that could give the Hawks trouble, and they have a huge home-court advantage, especially in a rivalry game like this one.

Temple enters Sunday's game at 4-4, with three of their four losses (North Carolina, Utah, Butler) coming against ranked teams and the other at Wisconsin. The Owls are coming off a 77-73 win Wednesday against Penn. Penn actually cut it to a one-possession game in the closing seconds but then the Owls were able to ice it at the free throw line.

The Owls have nine players that play double-digit minutes per game, and eight that play greater than 15 minutes a night. Dunphy's team has some depth. They are led by senior swingman Quenton DeCosey's 14.8 points per game. DeCosey has always been a gifted scorer, but he's improved his three-point shooting significantly so far this year. After shooting 36% last year, he's a blistering 48% so far this year, but only attempts just over three a game. I think you will see both DeAndre Bembry and James Demery matched up on DeCosey, who is a long, athletic 6'5.

Josh Brown and Devin Coleman are Temple's two starting guards, so they will be matched up against Shavar Newkirk and Aaron Brown to begin Sunday's contest. Brown, out of Saint Anthony's (NJ) High School, is a solid point guard for the Owls, but not exactly a scorer and not much of a shooter. He does run the team well, leading the team in minutes (32) and assists (5) per game. Against Penn Wednesday, he finished with 10 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. This could be a favorable match-up for Shavar Newkirk, who has struggled a bit the last two games for the Hawks. Devin Coleman and Aaron Brown are both Philly kids who left for college (Coleman to Clemson, Brown to West Virginia), only to return home. That should be a fun match-up to watch tomorrow at the 2, as both guys know each and other and have for quite some time.

Sticking with the backcourt, the Owls have two local, talented freshmen that they bring off the bench. 6'6 wing Trey Lowe and 6'3 combo guard Levan Alston are both names that Hawk fans are likely already familiar with. While Alston was the bigger name in high school, it's Lowe that has arguably made the biggest early impact for Temple. If Temple plays Lowe and DeCosey together at the 2 and 3, that's a tough match-up for most backcourts due to the size and length of both.

Looking at the Hawks' five main perimeter players compared to the Owls (Newkirk, Brown, Bembry, Demery, Kimble to Brown, DeCosey, Coleman, Alston, Lowe) I would be inclined to give the Hawks the edge. Most of that hinges on the play of DeAndre Bembry and him playing like the best player on the court. The front court could be another story tomorrow. Two players that could be pivotal tomorrow are Temple big men Jaylen Bond and Obi Enechionyia. Bond is a load in the paint with athleticism that the Hawk front court can't really match up with. Isaiah Miles will likely face the task of defending Bond. Miles has a vastly superior game from 10 feet and out, but he'll have to bang with Bond inside. Last year, Miles played arguably his best game of the season against Temple, finishing with 20 points and 9 boards. And this year, to date, Miles has really impressed. If he can even play Bond to a draw Sunday, it would go a long ways in securing a Hawk victory.

The other piece in play here for the Owls is sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia. The 6'9 sophomore will likely see a combination of Pierfrancesco Oliva and Papa Ndao defending him. He can really shoot the ball from deep, where he's 41% on the year, including 3-5 from deep in the win against Minnesota and 4-6 from deep against Delaware. He is definitely a difference-maker for the Owls, and one that Ndao and Oliva will have their hands full with.

If this game was played on a neutral court, I would not hesitate in picking the Hawks. But it's not. The Liacouras Center will be rowdy as it was two years ago when fans chanted "The Hawk is Dead" as the Owls took down the Hawks. That being said, if DeAndre Bembry is on his A Game like he was against Princeton, I think the Hawks pull one out. Las Vegas has the Owls favored by 3.5, which is essentially what they're given for home court. I like the Hawks in a nail biter, 73-69.

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