Over winter break, the Owls went 5-2 and began A-10 play.
Reaching the halfway point of a season, the men’s basketball team has suffered its share of upsets and injuries. The team has already experienced overcoming an injury to one of the team’s starting five and beat a Top 25 team, only to be found on the receiving end of a Top 25 upset.
For the most part, one could argue Temple has played up to expectations this season. The team finished taking care of business against the Mid-American Conference by opening the break with consecutive wins over Akron, Northern Illinois and Ohio, bringing its record against the MAC to 5-0 this season.
Things looked good for the Owls as those three wins were part of a six-game winning streak stretching back to Dec. 1 that included a 68-65 win over then-No. 9 Georgetown on Dec. 9 at the Liacouras Center. Junior guard Ramone Moore carried the team to victory over the Hoyas with a career-high 30 points.
The team’s streak came to an end in its final game of 2010 when the team kicked off Big 5 play with a loss to Villanova, 78-74, at the Pavilion on Dec. 30.
Despite holding a 40-39 lead at halftime and getting 22 points out of senior forward Lavoy Allen and 20 points of junior guard Juan Fernandez, the Owls lost when the Wildcats opened the second half with a 10-0 run; they never looked back.
Following the loss to Nova, the team kicked off Atlantic Ten Conference play where it opened 2010 with conference wins over Fordham, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure, but it wasn’t easy as two of those wins came without Fernandez, the team’s starting point guard.
Fernandez injured his knee two days after the team’s 70-51 win over Fordham on Jan. 5. Sophomore guards Khalif Wyatt and T.J. DiLeo were expected to pick up the slack for the next two games.
Against Saint Louis on Jan. 9., the Owls had a hard-fought battle with the Billikens, even though they are 6-11 with a 1-3 record in the A-10.
The Owls were able to gain a slight edge due to the Billikens being unable to make a three-point shot during the game while the Owls were able to score 16 points of 15 Saint Louis turnovers. Moore and junior forward Scootie Randall were the only players to score in double digits for Temple scoring 15 and 10 points, respectively.
In the following game against St. Bonaventure, things went more smoothly as the Owls were able to rout the Bonnies, 83-55. In his second career start, Wyatt made sure Temple’s offense didn’t miss a beat as he filled the starting point guard role well with 15 points and six assists.
Fernandez would return, albeit off the bench, wearing a knee brace against Duquesne on Jan. 15. Nearly a month ago, the Owls upset a Top 25 team in Georgetown, but this time it was the then-No. 19 Owls that were upended by Duquesne. Temple dug itself a hole it could not get out of in the first half that included a 22-2 run from Duquesne.
Moore, Allen and junior center Micheal Eric put up a combine one point and two rebounds in the first half.
The final score on Forbes Avenue was 78-66, Duquesne. Moore led the Owls with 18 points, all of which came in the second half.
Currently the Owls are 12-4 with a 3-1 record in the A-10, which puts them fourth in the conference after a three-way tie for first place between Duquesne, George Washington and Xavier.
Temple has the best scoring defense in the conference by allowing an average of 59.6 points per game. Moore is the tenth-highest scorer in the A-10 at 15.4 points per game. Fernandez and Allen average 10.8 and 10.7 points per game.
Up next, the Owls will take on Penn on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.