Temple has already defeated two basketball teams from the Southeastern Conference, one from the Big Ten, and another from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The kryptonite for the Owls has been their old league, the Atlantic Ten.
The Owls are 5-2 with both losses to Atlantic Ten teams, by four points each at La Salle and at George Washington.
When Temple hosts St. Joseph’s (4-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in a Big Five game at the Liacouras Center, it will be a chance for the Owls to finally beat an A-10 team.
“It seems like anytime we get a big win, we [next] face an Atlantic Ten school,” Temple guard Shizz Alston said after scoring 22 points in Wednesday’s 59-55 win over the Big Ten’s Wisconsin. “We are back again at this. We are 0-2 against Atlantic Ten. We’ll go hard in practice and have to get a good one against St. Joe.”
Temple’s loss to La Salle came after a 67-60 win over Clemson (ACC) in the championship game of the Charleston Classic in South Carolina. Before losing to George Washington, Temple earned a 76-60 win over South Carolina (SEC) at Madison Square Garden. (The Owls’ other SEC win came over Auburn).
Aside from a 94-53 loss Saturday to Villanova, St. Joseph’s has been playing competitive basketball, despite once again dealing with the injury bug.
Junior point guard Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble suffered a season-ending foot injury in the opening game against Toledo. Sophomore forward Charlie Brown Jr., who averaged 12.8 points last season, has yet to play after suffering a fracture in his left wrist that required surgery on Oct. 24.
According to Hawks coach Phil Martelli, Brown has been doing extensive conditioning work but as of Friday morning had not been cleared. Martelli calls his status for Saturday uncertain.
Senior point guard Shavar Newkirk has made a strong recovery from an ACL injury that forced him to miss the final 19 games last season. He is averaging 16.5 points and 3.1 assists.
“He is really gutting it out his senior year,” Martelli said. “I want my preparation and coaching to match his courage.”
Temple is coming off one of its more impressive wins of the season. The Owls limited Wisconsin to 5-for-20 shooting (25 percent) from three-point range.
“While they have great scoring with Alston, (Quinton) Rose and Obi (Enechionyia), you miss what they do great is defend,” Martelli said. “I think Josh Brown sets the tone defensively.”
Josh Brown, the redshirt senior point guard, has made a strong return after playing just five games last year because of Achillles tendon soreness. Led by Brown, Temple is allowing 67.4 points.
St. Joseph’s should test the Owls defense. The Hawks are averaging 74.5 points. Senior forward James Demery is averaging a team-high 16.8 points. One of the pleasant surprises has been 6-9 freshman Taylor Funk, who is averaging 14.6 points and shooting 25 for 52 (48.1 percent) from three-point range.
“Taylor Funk has been incredible,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “You can’t leave him alone.”
Rose (17.6 ppg.), Alston (16.9) and Enechionyia (13.9) are Temple’s leading scorers.
If the game is close, the Hawks will likely do their best not to foul Alston, who has hit a school-record 52 consecutive free throws dating to last year. He went 6 for 6 against Wisconsin.