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Temple Hosts Penn In Big 5 Battle

Khalif Wyatt #1 of the Temple Owls celebrates with teammates Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson #32 and Scootie Randall #33 after hitting a basket against Syracuse Orange during the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. Temple Owls defeated the Syracuse Orange 83-79. (Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Khalif Wyatt #1 of the Temple Owls celebrates with teammates Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson #32 and Scootie Randall #33 after hitting a basket against Syracuse Orange during the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. Temple Owls defeated the Syracuse Orange 83-79. (Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Matt Leon Matt Leon
Coming on board at KYW was a homecoming for Matt Leon. Born and raised...
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By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It will be a Big 5 battle tonight at the Liacouras Center as Temple hosts Penn.

Both teams are coming off losses last time out.  The Quakers lost a Big 5 game with St. Joe’s on Saturday, 79-59, to drop to 3-14 on the season (0-3 in the Big 5).

Temple is 12-5 (1-0 in the Big 5) after losing an Atlantic 10 match-up with St. Bonaventure on Saturday.  The Bonnies shot 49% from the field against the Owls, including 52% in the second half.

“We obviously did not guard them like we needed to,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “I thought our offense was okay, we had some open looks that we didn’t make.  But as long as we take good shots, I’m okay with that.  But our defense let us down, I thought.”

Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Fran Dunphy:

It has been a season long struggle for the Quakers, who are expected to, once again, be without leading scorer Fran Dougherty.  The junior forward (15.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg) has missed the last seven games with mono.  But some of the younger players on the roster have started to step up as of late.

“(Freshman center Darien) Nelson-Henry is a big dude and he’s going to give us all we need up front,” Dunphy says.”(Freshman guard Tony) Hicks is doing a great job, I’m impressed with what I see and I think there is a very bright future there.”

Nelson-Henry is averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds a game on the season, but in his last two games he’s combined to score 29 points and pull down 18 caroms.  Hicks sits at 7.2 points a game, and three games ago against Princeton, he set a career high, scoring 18.

Junior guard Miles Cartwright is Penn’s leading active scorer, at 13.1 points a game.

For Temple, Khalif Wyatt continues to lead the way.  The senior guard is tops on the team in scoring at 17 points a contest.  He also paces the squad in assists, dishing out 3.8 a night.  He poured in 31 in defeat against St. Bonaventure.

Of course, before he took over at Temple, Dunphy spent 17 seasons as the head coach of the Quakers.  And while he’s been on North Broad Street for more than six years now, these games with Penn are still special.

“I don’t think you can be somewhere as long as I was, without just great appreciation and understanding for what Penn is all about,” Dunphy says.

“Certainly added to it is the fact that Jerome Allen, who meant so much to me as a basketball player, and I learned so much from when he was playing for us, he is now the head coach.  So it is difficult, I will tell you that.  It’s never an easy game for me to play.”

Temple and Penn will tip-off at 7:00pm Wednesday night.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.