Preseason favorite visits Wednesday

Dayton, the preseason Atlantic Ten pick, travels to the Liacouras Center after a loss to Duquesne.

Dayton, the preseason Atlantic Ten pick, travels to the Liacouras Center after a loss to Duquesne.

A win is a win is the saying.

TTN File Photo/Anna Zhilkova Sophomore guard Ramone Moore drives to the basket in the Feb. 13 78-56 win against the Rhode Island Rams.

Last Saturday afternoon, the intensity of the Big 5 was on display at the Palestra. The men’s basketball team survived to beat Saint Joseph’s, 75-67, in overtime. Thanks to Ramone Moore’s career-high 24 points, two of which came on a coast-to-coast layup to send the game into overtime, Temple remains in the Top 25 for the ninth consecutive week at No. 20.

While the Owls (22-5 overall, 10-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) will take the victory and move on, they cannot play like they did last Saturday when they return to the Liacouras Center court Wednesday night to face a dangerous Dayton team.

The Flyers have been a streaky team this season. After splitting their first four games to start the season, the Flyers went on an eight-game winning streak. Since then, the A-10 preseason favorite has gone 8-6. Dayton now sits at 18-8 overall with a 7-5 conference record.

Nearly a year ago to date, the Flyers held off a furious Temple comeback in Ohio to win, 70-65. Dayton forward Chris Wright scored a game-high 20 points, and if the junior puts up a repeat performance Wednesday, the Owls could be looking at another loss to the Flyers.

After his 15 points in the Flyers’ 73-71 loss against Duquesne last Sunday, Wright became the 42nd player in Dayton history to reach 1,000 career points. He leads the Flyers in scoring with 14.7 points per game and is second on the team with 7.2 rebounds. Both statistics rank in the Top 15 in the conference. His 54.3 percent shooting clip ranks second in the A-10. He has scored in double figures in 11 of his last 12 games and posted a career-high 30 points to go along with nine rebounds in Dayton’s victory versus Charlotte.

The Owls will also have their hands full with sophomore guard/forward Chris Johnson, who can do damage with the ball and on the boards. Johnson is second on the team with a 12.5 scoring average and leads the Flyers with 7.4 rebounds per game. His career night came Jan. 9 against Duquesne, when he posted a 26-point, 20-rebound performance.

Temple forwards – junior Lavoy Allen, sophomore Micheal Eric and freshman Rahlir Jefferson – need to be tough on the defensive side of the ball, especially on the glass. The Flyers are 15-4 when they outrebound their opponent.

Wednesday’s contest will be a matchup between two of the best defenses in the conference. The Owls lead the A-10 by allowing 57.4 points per game, while the Flyers rank fourth with a 61.4 average.

Will the Flyers come out like a team on an eight-game winning streak or one who has been playing average basketball during the past month and a half? Will the Owls play like the team who blew out St. Bonaventure, 73-55, last Wednesday or like the one who struggled to beat a 9-18 St. Joe’s team last weekend?

Which Dayton and Temple teams show up Wednesday will decide these matchups and the game.

Pete Dorchak can be reached at

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