By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls will look to get on track on Thursday night when they welcome #19 Cincinnati to the Liacouras Center for an American Athletic Conference match-up.

The Owls are 7-6 and mired in a three-game losing streak. Their last two losses have come in their first conference games of the season, the Owls falling at home to Tulane and then on the road to Houston.

Head coach Fran Dunphy talks about what has led to their recent struggles after a strong start to the season.

“I think probably a combination of things,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “I think always, the defensive end, in the scoring area you’ve got to be more solid than we’ve been recently. Then on offense, we have to take better shots. Our efficiency has to improve. Our floor balance, because of poor shots, then leads to easy baskets at the other end.”

 

A positive development as of late has been the play of freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis. After seeing very limited action for much of the season, Pierre-Louis has played 22 minutes in each of the last two games, scoring 11 points in both games while shooting 8 for 13 from the field with 8 rebounds and six steals.

“His energy level is terrific,” Dunphy says. “His competitive level is outstanding as well. And he’s made some jump shots. I don’t think that would be a strong point for him coming in, but I think he’s worked so hard at the game and he’s a confident kid, he has no fear and those things I think all help you as a competitive student-athlete.”

The Bearcats are 12-2 on the season and they have won five in a row. Their last game was their AAC opener and they hammered Memphis, 82-48.

“They’re good athletes,” Dunphy says of the Bearcats. “They play very, very hard. [Head coach Mick Cronin]’s done a terrific job in terms of their mental mindset, in terms of defensive commitment, those kinds of things. On offense, they’re playing a bit faster, they’re scoring probably almost ten more points a game than they typically have been. Everything has gone up on the offensive end. So it’s a result of playing equally as good a defense as they’ve always done and then just pushing the pace just a little bit more.”

Cincinnati leads the all-time series between the two programs, 19-9. They last played last January with the Bearcats winning, 81-74.

Thursday night’s game will start at 9:00pm.

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