The men’s basketball team has lost two starters to injuries.
It’s been a mix of good and bad for the men’s basketball team over the past week.
During a practice last Tuesday, things took a turn for the worse for the Owls as redshirt-junior center Michael Eric suffered a fractured patella and is now done for the season.
“It was a freak accident, [sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt] and Mike kind of ran into each other,” redshirt-junior guard Ramone Moore said. “That’s unfortunate for Mike. We’re going to miss him a lot.”
“When these kinds of things happen, the first concern you have is for the guy,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Mike is a good man. He’s worked hard to get to where he is, so when you get that word when the doctor says, ‘You have a fractured patella and you’re out for the season,’ that’s pretty devastating for a young guy.”
Two days later, with sophomore forward Rahlir Jefferson making his second career start after having to replace injured senior forward Lavoy Allen in the team’s previous game against Dayton, the Owls stayed tough against the Atlantic City-bound Richmond by routing the Spiders, 73-53.
The Owls were led by Moore’s 24 points and from junior guard Juan Fernandez reaching 20 points for the first time in 2011.
“Personally, for me it was a good game but, more importantly, it was a good team win,” Fernandez said. “You just have to grab the ball and throw it up there as fast as possible without thinking.”
“It’s not an easy thing to do. Believe me, I’ve been working on it and hopefully this is the start of something new,” Fernandez added.
Even while Temple beat a tough Atlantic Ten Conference opponent in Richmond, the team lost another starter in junior forward Scootie Randall as he suffered a hairline fracture in his foot and remains day-to-day.
Temple would be down two starters for Sunday’s game against St. Joseph’s, but the Owls would defeat the Hawks, 66-52, for the team’s eighth-straight win this season and ninth straight win over the Hawks.
With 14 points and 12 rebounds, Allen now has 1,045 career rebounds, the leading all-time mark for the men’s basketball program. The previous record holder was John Baum, who was the captain of Temple’s 1969 NIT Championship team, with 1,042 career rebounds from 1966 to 1969.
“It means a lot,” Allen said. “John Baum did it in three seasons, so I had a little bit more time to break his record, but it means a lot. I’m going to celebrate after this, but we have to get ready for Duke starting tomorrow.”
With just four games left in the season, the Owls are 21-5 with an 11-2 record in conference play, which puts them in second place in the A-10.
On Wednesday, Temple will travel to Durham, N.C., to face the defending NCAA champions No. 1 Duke. The 25-2 Blue Devils are currently on a six-game winning streak and are led by two seniors and a freshman.
Senior guard Nolan Smith averages 21.4 points per game to be the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His partner in the backcourt, freshman guard Kyrie Irving, averages 17.4 points per game. Senior forward Kyle Singler is a presence in the paint averaging 16.9 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.