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Temple gets to play its home opener, finally

Marc Narducci, STAFF WRITER

Updated: Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 3:46 PM

Temple’s Shizz Alston Jr. dribbles two balls at once during a practice on Temple media day in October.

Finally, the Temple Owls will get to experience a home men’s basketball game after a stretch in which they played their first six games on the road.

That road streak will end when Wisconsin (4-5) visits Temple (4-2) for a game 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Liacouras Center. Temple is coming off Sunday’s 71-67 loss at George Washington, where the Owls trailed by as many as 17 points early in the second half. The Owls’ other loss was an 87-83 defeat at La Salle.

Wisconsin followed its worst defeat, Saturday’s 83-58 home loss to Ohio State, with Monday’s 64-63 victory at Penn State.

Ethan Happ, a 6-foot-10, redshirt junior, is one of three double-figure scorers for Wisconsin. He leads the Badgers in scoring (15.4 points per game) and rebounding (8.9).

“He is a really good basketball player,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said before Tuesday’s practice at the Liacouras Center. “You will find a number of possessions where he will get the rebound, take it full-court and make plays. He has got quite an array of moves inside, he’s a good passer and just feels the game extraordinarily, and that is what we are facing.”

Temple will have to do a much better job defensively after allowing George Washington to shoot 60 percent from the field and 56.3 percent (9 for 16) from three-point range.

While Wisconsin has a losing record, the Badgers have played a brutal early-season schedule. It has lost to three teams currently in the AP Top 25: No. 13 Xavier, 80-70; No. 15 Virginia, 49-37; and No. 23 Baylor, 70-65. In addition, Wisconsin lost to UCLA, 72-70, when the Bruins were ranked 23rd.

So the Owls won’t be deceived by the Badgers’ 4-5 record. And they won’t overlook the Badgers, something the players say they might have been guilty of against La Salle (5-4) and George Washington (4-4).

“We were prepared [for La Salle and George Washington] and kind of sensed that we were better than them and didn’t have to play as hard as we should, but we learned our lesson from that,” said sophomore swingman Quinton Rose, who is averaging a team-high 19 points.

Guard Shizz Alston, who is averaging 16 points, had a similar take: “We looked at those guys and didn’t respect them as much as, say, Cincinnati or UConn, so we have to respect every team the same way.”

Wednesday’s game will be the first of four consecutive at home for the Owls, who also will host Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Drexel.

“It’s been tough not being able to play on our home court for so long,” said 6-10 senior Obi Enechionyia, who is averaging 14.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. “I am excited to play in front of the fans.”

Marc Narducci, STAFF WRITER

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