Ready To Duke It Out

Temple men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy views Wednesday night's matchup against Duke, ranked No. 5 by the AP and No. 3 by ESPN/USA Today, at the Wells Fargo Center as a fabulous opportunity. The Owls have a chance to play one of the storied programs in college basketball in Philadelphia, knowing a win could not only make its season but a memory of a lifetime.

Temple men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy views Wednesday night's matchup against Duke, ranked No. 5 by the AP and No. 3 by ESPN/USA Today, at the Wells Fargo Center as a fabulous opportunity.

The Owls have a chance to play one of the storied programs in college basketball in Philadelphia, knowing a win could not only make its season but a memory of a lifetime.

"It's a great game, it's a great game for Philadelphia," said Dunphy. "We're pleased to have the opportunity to bring them to Philly. When you get a chance to coach against that program and play against that program, that's what you want.

"That's why you come to Temple. That's what you want for Philadelphia as well. It's a great, great opportunity."

Senior guard Juan Fernandez wants to make sure he and his teammates make the most of it.

"It's motivation to play against one of the best programs in history, one of the best coaches in history, too," said Fernandez of Mike Krzyzewski, who set the all-time Division I record for coaching wins this year. "You can easily take it as a pressure, but we take it as we want to win this game. It's going to motivate us to try to get a win.

"Sometimes I get a chance to come here and watch the Sixers, it's always a dream about playing in this stadium and (Wednesday) we have that chance. It's going to be awesome."

Duke is 12-1 this season and is led by freshman guard Austin Rivers (15.4 ppg) but it has another standout guard in Seth Curry (13.2). The Blue Devils also have a shooter in Ryan Kelly (12.5 ppg) and big bodies inside in Mason and Miles Plumlee (a combined 16.4 rebounds per game).

"We have to keep (Curry and Austin) out of the paint," said Temple freshman Will Cummings. "They thrive on getting into the paint and kicking out to each other. That's the main concept. I had a chance to play (Rivers) twice in high school, so I kind of know about that."

The Owls counter with their own set of talented guards as Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt are combing for over 35 points per game. None of the three reached double figures last year when the 24th-ranked Owls took on No. 1 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke won, 78-61, but it was a four-point game before Curry rattled home a three-pointer right before the first-half buzzer.

"We have to try to stay out of foul trouble and we've been talking all week about managing the game, figuring out what's a good shot and what's not," said Fernandez. "We can't afford to have too many mistakes. It's going to be a tough one, we can't let the game get out of control. We have to manage that, myself, ‘Mone and ‘Lif especially, and find a way to win."

Like last year, Temple is without forward Scootie Randall and center Micheal Eric because of injuries, so it will be a challenge inside again. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and freshman Anthony Lee will have their hands full keeping the Plumlee brothers off the boards.

"(The Plumlees) are intelligent players and know exactly what their roles are, which is typical of everything Coach K does," said Dunphy. "They're great rebounders, efficient on the offensive end and they know where they are supposed to be all the time.

"They're big basketball bodies. ... big, strong guys who will be an unbelievable challenge. I wish they were the only two. In my mind, they have 10 starters."

The Owls come into the game 9-3 and on a three-game winning streak, but after nail-biting wins over Buffalo and Delaware last week know their execution has to be at a much-higher level against the Blue Devils.

"You have to be on top of your game to beat any Top 10 team," said Cummings. "It'll be a great experience, but it's not really a different game than we played last week against Delaware. We're just going to do what we usually do and try to get a ‘W.'"

While the Duke name carries extra luster than most, the Owls are no strangers to beating top-10 teams. They did it each of the last three years, topping Tennessee (2008-2009), Villanova (2009-2010) and Georgetown (2010-2011).

"We have to play our best basketball," said Dunphy. "We have to be very, very efficient at everything we do."

Owls Daily Top Stories