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Temple Travels to East Rutherford Tonight to Face Fordham

Temple Owls @ Fordham Rams
7:00 PM January 5, 2011
The Izod Center East Rutherford, NJ

ALL-TIME

Temple leads the series 36-13.

LAST TIME

1/23/10 - The Owls won their 13th game in 14 tries as they knocked off the Rams in the historic Rose Hill Gym by a score of 62-45. Juan Fernandez scored 13 points before leaving the game due to an injury. Scootie Randall had a big game off the bench with 12 points on four three-pointers. The Cherry and White ended the first half with a 22-19 lead but went on a 16-4 run to blow the game open at the outset of the second stanza. Lavoy Allen had a quiet night with no points and three rebounds in 23 minutes of action while Micheal Eric collected nine points, four rebounds and 2 blocks in 28 minutes.

HEAD COACHES

Temple
Fran Dunphy
Record at Temple: 93-52 (5th season)
All-Time Record: 403-215 (21st season)

Fordham
Tom Pecora
Record at Fordham: 6-6 (1st season)
All-Time Record: 161-132 (9th season)

TOP PERFORMERS

Temple:
PPG: G Ramone Moore - 15.0
RPG: F Lavoy Allen - 7.0
APG: G Juan Fernandez - 4.0

Fordham:
PPG: G Brenton Butler - 17.4
RPG: F Chris Gaston - 12.6
APG: G Brenton Butler - 4.6

PROBABLE STARTERS

Temple
Lavoy Allen F - 11.2 ppg 7.0 rpg 1.4 bpg
Scootie Randall F - 8.7 ppg 4.9 rpg .500 fg%
Micheal Eric F - 6.8 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.7 bpg
Juan Fernandez G - 10.7 ppg 3.5 rpg 4.0 apg
Ramone Moore G - 15.0 ppg 4.7 rpg 2.4 apg

Fordham
Chris Gaston F - 15.5 ppg 12.6 rpg 1.6 bpg
Kervin Bristol F - 3.7 ppg 5.7 rpg 1.8 bpg
Brandon Frazier G - 11.8 ppg 3.8 apg 3.1 rpg
Alberto Estwick G - 12.5 ppg 4.7 rpg .389 3p%
Brenton Butler G - 17.4 ppg 4.6 apg .803 ft%

LAST OUTING

Temple (78-74 loss to Villanova)
From my game story:

As well as Villanova played the Owls still had plenty of chances to win the game. Temple shot 20 of 30 from the foul line with several devastating misses down the stretch. Foul shooting continues to be a bane for this team as they shoot just under 65 percent from the charity stripe. Ramone Moore's struggles in the second half were another contributing factor to Temple's demise. He scored 13 points in the first half but only four in the second to finish the game with 16. While that is above his season average by about two points it should be noted that he went 1 for 12 from the floor in the second half. The junior guard also committed five of Temple's 10 turnovers. It was not all bad for Moore, however, as he snatched a eight rebounds to go along with four assists and two blocks. Speaking of Allen, the senior forward had another one of those games that Temple supporters drool over as he led the Owls with 22 points, a game-high nine rebounds and a block. He also hit his first three-pointer of the season that brought the Owls with two points, 76-74, with only a few seconds remaining.


Fordham (85-70 loss to Santa Clara)
From the AP story:

Marc Trasolini scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and Santa Clara beat Fordham 85-70 on Thursday night in the consolation game of the Cable Car Classic. Trasolini, held to four points in the Broncos' 54-53 loss to Delaware in the opening round of the tournament, was 6 of 8 from the field and had a pair of 3-pointers. He scored 13 of Santa Clara's final 23 points, including a clinching dunk with 1:46 remaining, and had eight rebounds. Kevin Foster added 15 points and Kevin Roquemore had 14 points and seven assists for the Broncos (8-7). Brenton Butler scored a season-high 28 points but had six turnovers for Fordham (6-6). Chris Gaston had 17 points and 15 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. The Rams have lost two straight following a four-game winning streak. Santa Clara, a 15-time winner of the Cable Car Classic, had lost its last three games in the tournament, including a 54-53 defeat to Delaware on Wednesday. The Broncos shot poorly in that game and blew a six-point halftime lead.

THE MATCHUP

While they may not exactly be good, the Fordham Rams have definitely improved under the guidance of first year head coach Tom Pecora. They have already won more games this season (six) than the previous two years combined (five). His attempt to change the culture of Fordham basketball has clearly caught on as this is what he told the press after his squad's upset victory over St. John's back in December:

"Look, it's St. John's. They didn't recruit any of us. They didn't recruit me as a player or a coach ... We have a quote every day in practice, and I think yesterday it was, 'We don't just belong, we can win. I didn't want [my players] to think, 'Oh, we just gotta play well, and it'll be OK.' .... It's not OK to lose to St. John's. I didn't want them to think that. It's not OK. We can win this game. And we were lucky enough to do that."

Pecora has some talented pieces in place as last year's Rookie of the Year Chris Gaston is developing into quite the player for the Rams. He averages a double-double and is more than three rebounds per game better than the Atlantic 10's second leading rebounder, Xavier's Jamel McLean (9.5 rebounds per game). Two freshmen, guard Brandon Frazier and forward Marvin Dominique, play big roles for the Rams. Frazier, a starter, averages 11.8 points and players 36.4 minutes per game. Only senior Brenton Butler averages more time on the court. Dominique averages just under five points per game and seven rebounds as Pecora's first man off the bench.

The aforementioned Butler leads the team in scoring and assists in his fifth year as a Ram. His junior season was cut short after seven games due to an ACL injury. Butler scored a season-high 28 points for the Rams in their last game against Santa Clara and is averaging over 20 points per game in his last six. He is also the only current Ram to win back-to-back games so that should illustrate just how bad they have been.

While this team is certainly better than they have been in recent years they also are not very good. The one strength of that team is their rebounding as their 39.8 boards per game are good enough for second in the A10. They limit opponents to 33.2 rebounds per game which is fourth best in the conference. Even though rebound margin must die the team's margin of +6.6 is second in the A-10 and 35th nationally. Simply put, they can clean the glass. The key for the Owls is limiting the amount of offensive rebounds the Rams collect. Second chance points are an underdog's best friend.

The Rams average just a hair over 67 points per game and shoot at a 43 percent clip. They probably won't approach those averages as the Owls' defense is clearly better than Fordham's offense. They may hang around at the outset of the game but I think the Cherry and White will come out with something to prove after allowing a season-high 78 points in their loss to Villanova last Thursday night.

PREDICTION

The Owls come in as a healthy 16.5 point favorite and I think that line may be a bit deceptive. I think the Owls are going to win and I think they will win by double digits but not 16.5. Barring something crazy happening, the Owls should win their first conference game of 2011. Temple 71, Fordham 58

BONUS PREDICTION: Micheal Eric plays more than 12 minutes and fills the stat sheet. There aren't many teams in the A10 that can match his athleticism.