One has to appreciate the Temple Owls’ confidence.
While most outsiders think they’re going to lose, the Owls expect to upset the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils.
That’s right, Temple (9-3) anticipates winning Wednesday's nonconference game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Owls aren't interested in settling for a moral victory by hanging close.
“I don’t think we are ever going to approach a game by saying let us lose by less points,” Temple point guard Juan Fernandez said. “No team should approach a game like that, especially not us. That’s not how we’ve done it in the past few years. And that’s not our mentality.
“We are practicing to beat Duke. And it will be a statement if we win.”
Make that a huge statement.
The Blue Devils (12-1) have won five consecutive games by an average of 25.2 points since losing to No. 6 Ohio State in November. Duke beat its last two opponents – Western Michigan (110-70 outcome) and Penn (85-55) – by a combined 70 points.
Temple, on the other hand, has struggled in close victories over Buffalo (87-85 overtime) and Delaware (66-63). The 6-4 Bulls and 5-6 Blue Hens were supposed to be nothing more than tune-ups for the Duke game.
And the Owls are at a disadvantage without 6-foot-11 center Micheal Eric (right kneecap injury).
Ryan Kelly, a 6-11, 230-pound junior, and 6-10, 235-pound junior Mason Plumlee make up the Blue Devils’ starting frontcourt. Miles Plumlee, a 6-10, 245-pound senior, comes off the bench. The three post players averaged a combined 28.7 rebounds over the last three games.
“We don’t do moral victories around here,” Temple guard Khalif Wyatt said. “We are trying to win. And we are going in thinking we can win and knowing we can win.
“We are confident. Coach [Fran Dunphy] is confident. And we are just going to prepare like we prepare for every game.”
32 Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson F 6-6 Jr. 9.3 ppg. 6.8 rpg.
3 Anthony Lee F 6-9 Fr. 5.5 ppg. 6.8 rpg.
4 Juan Fernandez G 6-4 Sr. 13.3 ppg. 3.1 apg.
1 Khalif Wyatt G 6-4 Jr. 14.2 ppg. 1.7 spg.
10 Ramon Moore G 6-4 Sr. 17.4 ppg. 3.8 apg.
0 Austin Rivers G 6-4 Fr. 15.4 ppg. 2.2 apg.
3 Tyler Thornton G 6-1 Soph. 3.9 ppg. 1.8 apg
30 Seth Curry G 6-2 Jr. 13.2 ppg. 3.0 apg.
5 Mason Plumlee F 6-10 Jr. 11.5 ppg. 9.7 rpg
34 Ryan Kelly F 6-11 Jr. 12.5 ppg. 5.2 rpg.
Fran Dunphy (429-223 career record)
Mike Krzyzewski (912-285)
Duke leads, 18-9. The Blue Devils have won nine consecutive and 15 of the last 18 meetings.