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#25 Temple Travels to the Main Line to Face #8 Villanova

#25 Temple Owls @ #8/#8 Villanova Wildcats
7:00 PM  December 30, 2010
The Pavilion  Villanova, PA

ALL-TIME
Villanova leads the series 43-41

LAST TIME OUT
12/13/2009 - Juan Fernandez (33) and Ryan Brooks (20) accounted for 50 of Temple's 75 points as the Owls beat the #3/#3 Wildcats for the first time in four years. The victory marked the second straight December that a top ten team was upset by the Cherry and White. Fernandez was absolutely deadly from long range as he went 7 for 9 from three-point land and 11 for 15 overall. Lavoy Allen and Luis Guzman both played all 40 minutes and each found ways to contribute as the junior forward grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and the senior point guard dished a team-high 7 assists. The Owls trailed Villanova by six at halftime but scored the second stanzas first 11 points to take a 42-37 lead. The Wildcats were able to get within three points with just over three minutes remaining but Brooks hit some key baskets to seal the victory for Temple. Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats with 23 points while Corey Fisher had 14 and Corey Stokes contributed five.

HEAD COACHES
Temple
Fran Dunphy
Overall record: 403-214 (21 seasons)
Record at Temple: 93-51 (5 seasons)

Villanova
Jay Wright
Overall record: 335-185 (16 seasons)
Record at Villanova: 213-100 (10 seasons)

TOP PERFORMERS
Temple:
PPG: G Ramone Moore - 14.9
RPG: F Lavoy Allen - 6.8
APG: G Juan Fernandez - 3.9

Villanova:
PPG: G Corey Stokes - 15.7
RPG: F-C Mouphtaou Yarou - 8.1
APG: G Corey Fisher - 4.9

PROBABLE STARTERS
Temple
Lavoy Allen F - 10.2 ppg  6.8 rpg  1.5 bpg
Scootie Randall F - 8.5 ppg  5.1 rpg . 514 fg%
Micheal Eric F - 7.5 ppg  5.5 rpg  1.8 bpg
Juan Fernandez G - 9.8 ppg  3.4 rpg  3.9 apg
Ramone Moore G - 14.9 ppg  4.4 rpg  2.3 apg

Villanova
Corey Stokes G - 15.7 ppg  4.1 rpg
Antonio Pena F - 10.2 ppg  7.5 rpg
Mouphtaou Yarou F-C - 8.8 ppg  8.1 rpg
Corey Fisher G - 15.5 ppg  3.2 rpg
Maalik Wayns G - 12.4 ppg  3.1 rpg

LAST OUTING
Temple
Khalif Wyatt and Rahlir Jefferson both provided a much needed spark off the bench to lead the Owls to a 76-65 victory over the Ohio Bobcats in Athens, OH last Wednesday night. Both notched career bests in scoring output as Jefferson had 18 while Wyatt added 14. Ramone Moore scored 17 points while Juan Fernandez and Lavoy Allen scored seven and six respectively. The Argentinian guard finished the night with career highs in assists (nine) and steals (four). Ohio cut Temple's lead to six with seven minutes remaining but were unable to capitalize and ultimately lost by 11. As a team, the Owls shot 50 percent from the field and outrebounded the Bobcats by a 37-33 margin. Free-throw shooting was again a sore spot for Temple as they shot only 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) from the line.

Villanova
From SBNation Philly:

Corey Fisher scored a game-high 20 points to go along with five assists and five rebounds as the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats topped the Monmouth Hawks 76-36.

Corey Stokes added 19 points, including five three-pointers, and Mouphtaou Yarou scored 14 for the Wildcats (10-1), who have won five straight and will next face Big 5 rival Temple on December 30.

Maalik Wayns had 11 points and six assists for the victors.

Fisher and Stokes scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Villanova in the first half, en route to a 44-17 lead at the break.


THE MATCHUP
This promises to be a tough game for both teams. The Wildcats' superior talent is counteracted by the Owls playing style as they have the ability to force opposing teams to play ugly basketball. There are only a handful of teams in the nation that, in my estimation, would be capable of overcoming the Owls' style of play and Villanova is not one of them. Temple's two losses this year can be blamed solely on the offense as the defense kept both California and Texas A&M in the mid-fifties scoring wise.

That's not to say that guarding Villanova will be easy as they have some explosive guards in the form of Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns. The Coreys average 15.7 and 15.5 respectively while Wayns contributes 12.4 points per game. Senior Antonio Pena is the fourth Nova starter to average double figures with 10.2 points per game. Much like the Owls, the Wildcats have balanced scoring. Their numbers may be a little inflated due to some of the weaker teams they have played so far but the fact remains that Nova is very talented. 

The key to tonight's game is keeping Micheal Eric and Lavoy Allen on the floor and out of foul trouble. Eric has played limited minutes the past two games as he has reverted back to previous years' form by picking up cheap fouls early. Last year Allen was a force on the boards as he grabbed a game high 17 to go along with 10 points. Another double-double effort is almost necessary for the Owls to be successful tonight. As I have said all season: forget the jump shot and do the dirty work in the low post.

Villanova likes to play a fast pace so slowing them down will be the top priority for Temple. Their adjusted tempo (69.6) is ranked 91st in the country and their offensive adjusted efficiency is 111.3 which is good enough for 37th in the country. Simply put, their offense is potent. Will they put up gaudy numbers against Temple's defense? Probably not but they certainly have the potential to. Tonight's game may come down to a player like Juan Fernandez, a guy who has been good but not great so far this season. He has been 'due' to break out for a while now so perhaps tonight is the night that he rediscovers his shooting stroke.

PREDICTION
Temple is only a six point underdog but I can't tell if that line is showing the Owls respect or if it is trying to sucker bettors in laying cash on them. Temple's defense will ultimately decide whether or not they are able to emerge victorious. According to Kenpom, the Owls have the ninth most efficient defense while Nova boasts the 10th ranked defense. The thing about that stat is that Nova has played a lot of cupcakes so far while Temple is a bit more battle tested at this stage of the season. Before the year I predicted this game as a loss for the Owls and I can't go back on that now. Temple keeps it close, leads late...but loses a heartbreaker to the Cats. Villanova 66, Temple 62