NCAA Basketball Tournament: Temple - Penn State Preview

No. 10 Penn State (19-14, 9-9 B10) vs. No. 7 Temple (25-7, 14-2 A10)
2:15 PM EST March 17, 2011
McKale Center Tuscon, Ariz.

ALL-TIME
Temple leads the series 59-32. These two teams met in the 2001 Sweet 16 with Temple coming out on top, 84-72. The Nittany Lions' last win in the series came on Dec. 9, 2001 by a score of 66-60.

LAST TIME
12/5/2009
- The Owls and Nittany Lions combined for 87 total points in a game that set offensive basketball bag a few decades as Temple won 45-42. Penn State shot 34.9 percent (15 of 43) while Temple shot 30 percent (18 of 60). Ryan Brooks scored a game-high 19 points while Talor Battle scored eight on 3-of-15 shooting. Lavoy Allen was 3 of 12 from the field but finished the game with eight points to go along with his 12 rebounds.

HEAD COACHES
Temple

Fran Dunphy
Record at Temple: 109-56 (5th season)
All-Time Record: 419-219 (21st season)

Penn State
Ed DeChellis
Record at Penn State: 114-137 (8th season)
All-Time Record: 219-230 (15th season)

TOP PERFORMERS
Temple

PPG: G Ramone Moore - 14.9
RPG: F Lavoy Allen - 8.4
APG: G Juan Fernandez - 4.1

Penn State
PPG: G Talor Battle - 20.1
RPG: F Jeff Brooks - 6.5
APG: G Tim Frazier - 5.0

PROBABLE STARTERS
Temple

Lavoy Allen F - 11.8 ppg. 8.4 rpg. 1.8 bpg.
Rahlir Jefferson F - 5.6 ppg 5.1 rpg. .545 fg%
Aaron Brown G - 3.4 ppg. 1.0 rpg. 10.0 mpg.
Juan Fernandez G - 10.7 ppg. 3.0 rpg. 4.1 apg.
Ramone Moore G - 14.9 ppg. 4.3 rpg. 3.2 apg

Penn State
Jeff Brooks F - 13.3 ppg. 6.5 rpg. 1.7 apg.
Andrew Jones F - 6.1 ppg. 5.5 rpg. 30.0 mpg.
David Jackson F - 9.8 ppg. 4.5 rpg. 0.6 apg.
Tim Frazier G - 6.0 ppg. 3.8 rpg. 5.0 apg.
Talor Battle G - 20.1 ppg. 4.5 rpg. 2.9 apg.

LAST OUTING
Temple (58-54 loss to Richmond)

From the Associated Press:

Juan Fernandez, the most outstanding player in last year's tournament, had a miserable day, shooting 3 of 17 from the field and missing a one-and-one chance with 17 seconds to play and the Owls down 57-54.

Temple did not score in the final 5 minutes after taking a 54-53 lead on a layup by Moore.

Trailing 46-43 after Wyatt hit a 3-pointer with 12:25 to play, Richmond scored the next eight points to take a 51-46 lead, with Anderson hitting a 3-pointer and a jumper to cap the spurt.

After Moore made a free throw and Harper hit a layup to push the lead to 53-47, Temple scored the next seven points.

Wyatt converted a three-point play and Moore scored on a pair of fastbreaks, putting the Owls ahead 54-53 with 5:03 to play and bringing the many Philadelphia-area fans in the crowd to their feet.

After a couple of fruitless possessions on both sides, Harper drove the lane and tipped in his own missed shot to put the Spiders ahead 55-54 with 3:48 to play.

Penn State (71-60 loss to No. 1 Ohio State)
From the Associated Press:

Penn State's Tim Frazier, who scored 22 points in the semifinal win over Michigan State, didn't score against Ohio State until 6:50 remained and finished with five points.

The Nittany Lions had allowed 45.3 points per game in their three tournament wins, but Ohio State surpassed that total with 13 minutes remaining. The Buckeyes shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.

The Buckeyes won their seventh straight game and became the second team in conference history to play in the final for three straight years. They also became the first repeat tournament champion since Michigan State in 1999 and 2000, and both of those teams reached the Final Four.

THE MATCHUP
Temple and Penn State renew their hardwood rivalry in an odd location - 2,500 miles away from the Keystone State in Tuscon, Ariz. - I am not quite sure anyone knows what the committee's reasoning behind sending two East Coast programs out west is, to be honest.

Regardless of location, tomorrow afternoon's game is monumental for two reasons: 1) it marks the first time a Fran Dunphy led squad plays as an at-large team and 2) it is the first time in a very long time that Temple is matched up with a team it should be able to beat.

That's not to say that it will be a cake walk as the Nittany Lions are led by one of the nation's best kept secrets at guard in the form of senior Talor Battle. Check out this quote from Ohio State's Aaron Craft, a very solid defender.

"Talor's a great player," Craft said. "He does a great job of changing speeds, and you never know where he's going to go. Once I got into the game, I tried to do my best to keep him in front of me, and at times, he still goes by me."

That may sound like bad news for a team whose best perimeter defender is coming back from a hairline fracture in his right foot (don't worry folks, Keith Pompey reported tonight that Scootie is pain free and will play!). Word is that Ramone Moore more than held his own against Battle when the two teams met in a closed-door preseason scrimmage in State College but that was then and this is now.

Battle is an integral part of what Penn State does. He is used on 28.4 percent of Penn State's possessions and takes 31.8 percent of the team's shots this year. Battle has also played a whopping 95 percent of Penn State's total minutes. He is second in scoring behind Purdue's JaJuan Johnson in the offensively challenged Big 10 with 20.2 points per game.

One thing I have read on Temple message boards is that the key is getting Battle into early foul trouble. The problem with that theory is the fact that he has committed just 50 personal fouls all season. He averages 1.6 fouls committed per 40 minutes played which is good enough for 29th in the country. Conversely, he draws 5.3 fouls per 40 minutes.

Keeping Battle in check is the key. He scored just eight points in last year's defensive war at the Liacouras Center but had 19 in State College two years ago. A combination of Moore / Randall / Rahlir Jefferson with a little bit of T.J. DiLeo would be an idea way to try to counteract Battle's influence on the game.

(As an aside, I read on a Penn State website that will go nameless that Juan Fernandez is Temple's defensive stopper. I love Fernandez as much as the next 21-year-old girl but that might be the dumbest thing I've read since proofreading my last entry.)

Jeff Brooks is the other Lion that Temple will have to account for. He is second on the team with 13.3 points and shoots the ball very efficiently. His effective field goal percentage is 59.1 and his true field goal percentage is 61.2. Both are good enough to rank in the top 100 nationally.

While Brooks leads the team with 6.5 rebounds per game he isn't considered a banger down low. 6-10 senior and Philadelphia native Andrew Jones is Penn State's inside presence but at 6.1 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game he is not a game changer. I wouldn't be surprised to see Allen on Jones on most possessions while Rahlir Jefferson or Aaron Brown checks Brooks.

Penn State is essentially a five man team as the starters all average over 30 minutes per game. Third year freshman Billy Oliver sees the most time off the bench at 14.3 minutes per game. The Owls lucked out big time in drawing a team that has even less depth and size than they do.

The Nittany Lions average a Big 10 worst 63 points per game while they allow 62.4. The game is shaping up to be a defensive struggle but the one advantage that the Owls have is the fact that they have more players who are capable of going off offensively. Khalif Wyatt, Moore, Randall, Allen and Fernandez all have the ability to fill the basket up while Jefferson and Brown have the ability to surprise people offensively every now and then.

PREDICTION
After last year's debacle I convinced myself that I would never pick Temple to win until they actually did so. I changed my tune when I saw the draw this year as Penn State is a vulnerable squad. I don't think that this game is going to be a laugher by any means but I do believe that the Owls have more than enough quality to advanced to the round of 32 on Saturday. Temple 61, Penn State 53

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