Owls begin defining A-10 stretch

Temple proved it is capable of beating a national powerhouse by slaying fifth-ranked Duke.

Now, the Owls (10-3) must prove they can keep that momentum going during what could be a grueling start to Atlantic Ten Conference play.

Temple opens conference play  Saturday  against Dayton (11-4, 1-0 A-10) at the Liacouras Center.  Afterward, the Owls travel to St. Louis (12-3, 0-1) and Richmond (9-7, 0-1) before hosting La Salle (11-4, 1-0) on Jan. 18.

It can be argued that this four-game stretch could ultimately carry more weight to the NCAA tournament selection committee than beating the Blue Devils (12-2).

Win at least three games, and the Owls will be viewed as legitimate.  Split the four games, and Temple will be viewed as inconsistent. Lose three or more, the Duke victory will be labeled a fluke.

Perhaps that has something to do with the Owls quickly turning their attention to Dayton moments after Wednesday night’s upset.

Like Temple, the Flyers are shorthanded. Junior forward Josh Benson suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Dec. 30 against Mississippi.  Averaging 10.9 points, the 6-foot-9 Dayton native is the Flyers’ second-leading scorer.

However, they managed to take a 79-72 overtime victory over St. Louis without him Wednesday night. That marked Dayton’s sixth win in seven games.

The Flyers, however, have lost both of this season’s road games. Meanwhile, Temple has a won 25 consecutive home games.

PROBABLE STARTERS

TEMPLE (10-3, 0-0 A-10)
32 Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson F  6-6 Jr. 9.8 ppg. 6.7 rpg.
3 Anthony Lee F 6-9 Fr. 5.9 ppg. 6.8 rpg.
4 Juan Fernandez G 6-4 Sr. 12.6 ppg. 3.2 apg.
1 Khalif Wyatt G 6-4 Jr. 14.8 ppg. 2.0 spg.
10 Ramon Moore G 6-4 Sr. 16.9 ppg. 3.8 apg.


DAYTON  (11-4, 1-0 )
1  Kevin Dillard G 6-0 Jr. 12.2 ppg. 5.4 apg.
22 Paul Williams G 6-4 Sr. 9.6 ppg. 1.4 apg
4  Chris Johnson F 6-6 Jr. 10.5 ppg. 5.2 rpg.
23 Luke Fabrizius F 6-9 Sr. 5.9 ppg. 1.8 rpg
35 Matt Kavanaugh F 6-9 Jr. 7.1 ppg. 5.8 rpg.

Coaches

TEMPLE

Fran Dunphy (430-223 career record)

DAYTON

Archie Miller (11-4)

SERIES

Temple leads, 16-11. The Owls won the last two meetings and hold a 4-2 series record at the Liacouras Center.

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