By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls will face their toughest test of the young season tonight as they take on #4 Duke up in Brooklyn as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

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The Owls are 2-0 here in the early going. They opened by winning a 40-37 street fight over American before picking up a nice win over a quality Louisiana Tech team on Monday, 82-75.

“We’ve done some very good things on the defensive end, or better things I would say,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “Obviously, we had some room to move defensively from last year. We’ve done some good things and to get two wins against those opponents we felt good about. But we need to improve, we need to get better every single day and obviously this weekend will be a great test for us.”

Listen to the entire interview with Temple’s Fran Dunphy:

 

Temple is holding opponents to 37% shooting here in the early going and just 25% from behind the arc. On offense, senior guard Will Cummings leads the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Cummings is actually really struggling from the field, shooting just 15% (4-26), but he’s done a great job at getting to the foul line (18-24 free throws through two games).

Tonight the Owls will face a Duke team that is 3-0. The Blue Devils most recently beat #19 Michigan State on Tuesday, 81-71, and Dunphy says they aren’t ranked fourth in the country by accident.

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“The kid (freshman center Jahlil) Okafor is just extraordinary in his skill level,” Dunphy says. “Not only in scoring the ball, but also passing it and his knowledge of the game and his feel for everything that’s going on out there. I’m also a huge (senior guard) Quinn Cook fan. I think he is really a terrific player. When we played them a couple years ago, every time we saw the light of day he just kind of slammed the door in our face. I’ve seen that happen in their first couple of games (this season) as well. He’s just a great leader for them.”

Okafor leads Duke in scoring (17.7 ppg) with Cook right behind him (16.7 ppg). Okafor, by the way, is shooting an absurd 83% from the field. He has made 25 of his 30 field goal attempts this season.

So this will be a big challenge for the Owls, but Dunphy is looking forward to it.

“They’ve got the requisite talent,” Dunphy says. “They have as good a basketball coach as there is out there (Mike Krzyzewski). So it’s a little scary, the thought, but what a great challenge and what a great opportunity it is to play them.”

Temple and Duke will tip-off tonight at 9:30 pm. The Owls will also play tomorrow against either UNLV or Stanford in Brooklyn.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

 

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