The men’s basketball team will return to A-10 play on Wednesday against the Charlotte 49ers.
Men’s basketball claimed its second win of the season against an Atlantic Coast Conference squad when it defeated the Maryland Terrapins (12-6, 2-2 ACC), 73-60, on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at The Palestra.
In the Atlantic Ten Conference, the Owls (13-5, 2-2 A-10) sit a game and a half behind first-place Dayton (14-5, 4-1 A-10) in the standings. However, there are also seven teams separating the Flyers and the Owls.
Temple hits the road on Wednesday to face the Charlotte 49ers (10-8, 2-3 A-10), who are ranked 288th out of 344 nationally in field goal percentage at .408 and have lost their past three conference games. But coach Fran Dunphy said during a teleconference call on Monday that he expects a hard fought league game.
“To me this league is a fantastic league, one that you have to be on your game, each and every night,” Dunphy said. “If you don’t play your best basketball then pretty much assure yourself that you’re going to be very lucky to win a game or you’re going to be coming out on the losing side.”
Pacing Temple offensively against Maryland were guards redshirt-senior Ramone Moore and junior Khalif Wyatt who each scored 20 points in the win. The win marked the Owls’ second straight, coming off a 76-70 victory against city-rival La Salle last Wednesday.
The Owls will be looking to defend Charlotte’s 6-foot-9-inch junior forward Chris Braswell who leads the team in scoring (14.5 points per game) as well as rebounding (7.5 rebounds per game). Dunphy said it will be up to redshirt-freshman forward Anthony Lee to defend Braswell.
“Braswell is a terrific player and one of the better big guys in our league,” Dunphy said. “He does a lot of different things, he’s not one dimensional. But he’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”
“Obviously [Lee] is going to have to deal with [the matchup], but he’s been dealing with it for the last number of games,” Dunphy added. “He’s been trying to fight like crazy and I’m proud of his efforts.”
The 49ers are a young team with two underclassmen in the starting lineup, including freshman guard Pierria Henry, who leads the team and is second in the A-10 in steals per game (2.7) and is also the 49ers’ leader in assists with 3.3 per outing.
One of the Owls’ weaknesses this season has been their ability to rebound, as they are on average out-rebounded by their opponents. The team is No. 183 nationally in the category with 34.7 per game.
However, the return of graduate center Micheal Eric could help the Owls in that department. Prior to Eric’s injury, which kept him on the bench for 13 games this season, he led the A-10 in rebounds with 11.3.
Eric said after the Maryland game during a media interview that his abilities on the court should come back quickly for him.
“I think I just have to build that confidence that every shot I take is going to be a good shot,” Eric said.
In seven minutes of action against Maryland, Eric didn’t record any rebounds and went 0-1 from the field after taking a jumper from outside the paint. Dunphy said during a conference teleconference call that he will evaluate the number of minutes that Eric will play against the 49ers.
“I think we’ll continue to do what we did on Saturday and give [Eric] selected minutes in the first and second half and see how he feels and see how his efficiency is,” Dunphy said. “I thought he did as good as you could do after being off for as long as he was.”
While the team would like to have its starting center in top shape immediately, the Owls also realize that they need to be patient with Eric’s return to the court.
“I’m not sure and I don’t want [Eric] to rush it and put too much pressure on himself,” Moore said in the Maryland postgame press conference. “We want to just work him back into the system. Once he gets going, I think come tournament time, he’ll probably be back to himself.”
Eric said on Saturday that Dunphy expects him to play “a couple minutes” against Charlotte and then again versus St. Joseph’s on Saturday, when the Hawks visit the Liacouras Center at 4 p.m.
“I’m just going to have to show that I can progress from now until maybe March or until maybe next week or two weeks from now, I have to progress so I can be in position to play more minutes to help the team out,” Eric said.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.