Temple looking to make a run | City Six report

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Nate Pierre-Louis, center, of Temple celebrates as they go off the court after their 60-51 victory over Penn at the Palestra on Jan 20, 2018.

An update on the City Six men’s basketball teams.

Temple

If the Owls (10-9) are to get serious about earning an NCAA tournament berth, they could use an upset win over a ranked team. Temple, which is just 2-5 in the American Athletic Conference, will have a chance Wednesday to make a statement when it visits No. 9 Cincinnati. The Owls lost, 55-53, to the Bearcats at the buzzer on Jan. 4 at home.

Temple has won three of its last four, including Saturday’s 60-51 victory at the Palestra over Penn.

Asked if the team is turning the corner, coach Fran Dunphy replied, “I hope so. … We’ll be ready to face one of the top teams in the country.”

Temple has big wins over No. 18 Clemson and No. 19 Auburn and also beat SMU, snapping the Mustangs’ 33-game home winning streak. Next, the Owls will face a Cincinnati team that has won 36 straight at home, the longest current streak in the nation.

The Owls are No. 2 in the nation in schedule strength, and their RPI was 46 entering Tuesday. With nine losses, the margin for error isn’t great. Besides meeting Cincinnati, Temple will get two more chances at a current top 25 team when it faces No. 17 Wichita State both home and away.

Coming up

Wednesday at Cincinnati, 9 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Sunday vs. Connecticut, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Villanova

Jalen Brunson is always working to improve, and one area is his post-up game. The 6-foot-3 point Wildcats guard says it is something he has worked on since high school.

“I may not be taller than other defenders, but I can find other ways to be creative in the post, use my strength, use that a little bit,” he said earlier this month. “It is something I have always had and love to do.”

It just seems that he has been doing it more this season. What also helps Brunson is that he has one of the better pump fakes around. That buys him time and spacing when shooting.

“I try to be patient, not try to rush or take a quick shot, trying to see what the defense is doing and know where everybody is,” said Brunson, who entered Tuesday’s game against Providence averaging 19 points. “If I see that nobody is helping [on defense], I know I can go.”

Coming up

Sunday at Marquette, 1 p.m. (Fox29)

St. Joseph’s

Coach Phil Martelli continues to be impressed by the play of senior point guard Shavar Newkirk, who suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season a year ago. Newkirk is averaging 17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

“Shavar has continued to grind, and he has shown great courage,” Martelli said.

According to Martelli, Newkirk is still not 100 percent. “He is not all the way there yet and he might not get there,” Martelli said. “A lot has to do with conditioning.”

That said, Newkirk is averaging 32.6 minutes, second on the team to James Demery (35.6). Newkirk has been consistent, having scored in double figures in 16 of 18 games, including 13 of the last 14 entering Wednesday’s matchup at St. Bonaventure.

Coming up

Wednesday at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday at Penn, 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

La Salle

After missing five of six games because of an ankle injury, senior swingman B.J. Johnson  has played the last two — a win over Fordham and Saturday’s loss to Richmond — and is beginning to get his footing back, according to coach John Giannini. “He looked much better against Richmond,” Giannini said. In the 81-74 loss at Richmond, Johnson had 27 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes, shooting 12 for 21 from the field.

The 6-7 Johnson entered Tuesday leading the A-10 in scoring (20.9 ppg.). When Johnson was out, 6-6 sophomore Isiah Deas stepped up. Deas is averaging 11.2 points, but has scored in double figures in six straight and is averaging 16.5 points in that span.

Coming up

Wednesday vs. Massachusetts, 7 p.m.

Penn

In the 60-51 loss to Temple on Saturday, junior guard Jake Silpe, from Cherry Hill East, played a season-high 15 minutes and had three assists, two steals, two rebounds and no turnovers for the Quakers (12-6, 3-0 Ivy).

“We have a good record, but I am not satisfied where we are,” coach Steve Donahue said when asked about Silpe’s increased playing time. “Somebody who plays well in practice continually and done what he has done deserves a chance, and I think he makes us a better team.”

Silpe started 20 games as a freshman but has seen limited action since. This season, he has appeared in eight games.

“What he has been through, starting as a freshman, not playing for a long time and never losing perspective of what he needs to do in whatever role he is in, I am just proud of him as a kid, and that is how our program is,” Donahue said. “If you do it, I will reward you if it makes us better.”

Coming up

Saturday vs. St. Joseph’s, 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

Drexel

The Dragons are 1-8 in their last nine games, including a 75-73 loss Saturday at James Madison. Drexel received 21 points and 10 rebounds from junior guard Tramaine Isabell, who is averaging a team-high 18.5 points and is second in rebounding (7.7).

Drexel has three straight home games ahead.

“I think we can turn it around whether we are home or away, but it is great to know that we will have a couple of games at home, regardless,” coach Zach Spiker said.

Coming up

Thursday vs. Elon, 7 p.m.

Saturday vs. Northeastern, 2 p.m.