By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls returned to the national rankings on Monday.
Their ten-game winning streak and 21-5 record have earned the Owls the #22 slot in this week’s AP Top 25 poll.
Last time out, the Owls handled Duquesne on Saturday, 78-59. Temple shot 58% from the field in the win and they had 20 assists on 30 field goals. Head coach Fran Dunphy said those two statistics really compliment each other.
“When you are moving the basketball and everybody’s kind of sharing it, it looks like you are really a team that has the team as it’s main focus,” said Dunphy. “I just look at what Ramone Moore did, where he didn’t have a great scoring day (3 points), they certainly concentrated a lot of their efforts on trying to stop him from scoring, but he had eight assists. And I think that’s a great testament to a very good basketball player, and I’d like to think that all three of those guys that are in the backcourt for us want to do the same thing when it’s not their day to score.”
The other members of that backcourt for the Owls are Juan Fernandez, who had 20 points and six assists against Duquesne, and Khalif Wyatt, who led all scorers with 24 points in the win.
Now, the Owls roll into a very difficult week as they play a pair of Big 5 and Atlantic 10 rivals on the road. They’ll visit Saint Joe’s on Hawk Hill on Saturday, but first it’s a trip to Gola Arena on Wednesday to battle La Salle.
Dunphy said playing back-to-back games against longtime city rivals makes this one of the toughest weeks on the schedule.
“We’ve had a good run recently” he said. “But knowing full well that these two games are, again, Atlantic 10 games, Big 5 games, both on the road, both against really good basketball teams. This is a huge week for us.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s entire interview with Fran Dunphy.
Temple beat La Salle in the first meeting between the two teams, 76-70, back on January 18th. Dunphy said the Explorers and their four guard attack make life difficult.
“They are really balanced on offense, you can’t concentrate on any one guy,” he added. “They all score it, they all pass it, they all do really good things for their team. I think they have had a great year and this will be a really great test for us.”
Temple and La Salle will tip-off at 7:00pm on Wednesday night.