By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Temple will play its first game of the 2013 calendar year on Sunday and it will be a challenge as the Owls have to travel to Lawrence, Kansas and take on the #6 Jayhawks.
After beating Bowling Green at the Liacouras Center on New Year’s Eve, 75-57, the Owls sit at 10-2 on the season.
“I think that we’re getting better,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “The reality is we have to get much better as we move into our league season now after Kansas on Sunday. We’ve got our hands full. We have some really, really tough games coming up and we have to really play together and we can’t have any missteps. It’ll be a great challenge for us, no question about it.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Fran Dunphy:
Kansas is 11-1 and they have won ten straight since suffering their only loss at the hands of #18 Michigan State back on November 13th.
“They’re very efficient on the offensive end,” Dunphy says. “Their shooting percentages are as good as anybody that is at that level in the country. And they shoot it pretty good from the three point line as well. And they shoot it good from the foul line. Those are concerns that we have. And they are so good in the open floor, so we’re going to have to manage this game very, very well.”
The Jayhawks are shooting 50% from the field as a team, while allowing opponents to make just 35% of their shots.
Dunphy says the Jayhawks are a balanced team, but they feature a very talented, seven-foot, senior center.
“The guy that does some real damage obviously is (Jeff) Withey because not only is his offense very good, but his defense – he has 59 blocks – so you can only imagine how many changes (of shots) he’s had as well. He’s just such a big guy in there.”
In addition to those blocks, Withey is second on the team in scoring at 15.8 points a game. He is also the Jayhawks top rebounder at nearly eight a contest.
The Owls have already matched-up with perennial powers in #1 Duke (90-67 loss) and #7 Syracuse (83-79 win) this season, but both those games were on neutral courts. On Sunday, the Owls will have to compete in Jayhawk country at historic Allen Fieldhouse.
“It’s a phenomenal place to play,” Dunphy says. “They have such a phenomenal atmosphere that your kids are now going to go in, so you have to manage the atmosphere as well.”
Temple and Kansas will tip-off at 4:30pm on Sunday.
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattleonkyw.