Temple will face Rhode Island this Saturday.
By the time the men’s basketball team steps on the court Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center, Temple (19-5 overall, 7-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) will have had a week to ponder its 71-54 upset loss last Saturday at Richmond.
The top-ranked defense in the A-10 was unable to stop a surging Spiders team that has now won six of its last seven games (18-6 overall, 7-2 A-10). Richmond played nearly flawless basketball in the first half, as the Spiders shot 77 percent from the field to jump out to a 44-26 halftime lead. The Owls outscored Richmond by one point in the second half, but that wasn’t nearly enough, as Spiders junior guard Kevin Anderson scored 29 points.
With the dominating loss on their minds for nearly a week, the now No. 21 Owls will look to respond Saturday afternoon when the Rhode Island Rams travel to the Liacouras Center for the second half of a Temple basketball doubleheader. The women will battle the Charlotte 49ers at 1 p.m.
Saturday’s battle will be the second in just more than a month between the two teams, both of whom are in the top five in the A-10 standings. The Owls sit in third place, while the Rams (18-3 overall, 6-2 A-10) are tied with Richmond for fourth. Back on Jan. 10, when the teams played in Kingston, R.I., senior guard Ryan Brooks scored eight of his 16 points in overtime, and Temple won its ninth game in a row, 68-64.
The Temple big men will try to avoid a repeat performance of last month’s game in Rhode Island. Rams forwards, senior Lamonte Ulmer and junior Delroy James, torched the Owls on the inside for 31 points and 15 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive glass.
James is second on the team in scoring and averages nearly a double-double with almost 14 points and 10 rebounds a game. Rhode Island tops the A-10 in blocks per game with nearly six. James has 28 this season. Ulmer, who scored 17 points with 10 boards in the Rams’ win against Massachusetts last Saturday, averages more than 11 points per game with eight rebounds.
The Owls will also have their hands full guarding the Rhode Island backcourt. Senior guard Keith Cothran leads the Rams in scoring with 16 points per game. Cothran, who left last week’s game against La Salle with an ankle injury, returned late in the second half. His basket helped the Rams hold on for a 90-83 victory versus the Explorers. Cothran scored 18 points last month against Temple, and his 1,000th career point came in overtime.
The Rams also have some weapons off the bench. In fact, two of their bench players rank in the Top 5 in team scoring. Freshman guard Akeem Richmond is a 3-point threat for the Rams. Richmond, who hit six 3-pointers against UMass, now has 47 on the season. He needs four more to break Tyson Wheeler’s school record.
The Temple defense needs to be on its A-game if it wants to avoid its second loss in as many games. The Owls lead the A-10 in scoring defense by allowing 57.6 points per game. Rhode Island is second in the conference in scoring offense and averages nearly 78 points per game. The Owls have to avoid getting into a shootout with a dangerous Rams offense to stop a mini-losing streak.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.