December sure is good for the men’s basketball team, isn’t it?
Two years ago, a Dionte Christmas-led Temple team upset No. 8 Tennessee. Christmas scored 35 points to lead the Owls to a 88-72 victory.
Last year, sophomore guard Juan Fernandez scored 33 points to upset No. 6 Villanova. The 6-foot-4-inch Fernandez scored 33 points to help defeat Villanova, 75-65.
On Thursday, junior guard Ramone Moore scored 30 points to defeat No. 9 Georgetown. This year’s upset was a little closer than years past but the Owls still won, 68-65.
Winter Owls? Snow Owls? Cardiac Owls? What do you call these Fran Dunphy squads? How about the defensive-minded Owls? It might not be as catchy, but it’s probably the most accurate description.
Many expected Temple to take a step back defensively after guards Ryan Brooks and Luis Guzman, arguably the team’s two best defenders last season, graduated in the spring. Thanks to the emergence of junior forward Scootie Randall and Dunphy’s system, the Owls have remained dominant on the defensive end.
Randall, who averaged a mere seven minutes a game last season, played all 40 minutes against the Hoyas. Randall, who scored 10 points, recorded four steals to help force 13 Georgetown turnovers.
Coming into the game, Georgetown was averaging 79.1 points per game off of 51 percent shooting. The Owls limited the Hoyas to 43.8 percent shooting, including 31.3 percent from three-point land, well below their 43.8 percent average coming into the game.
“He’s starting to really be such a solid defender,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “Scoot’s become a really reliable guy. I thought he was a really solid performer… He’s paid a lot of dues and Scoot deserves this opportunity.”
After holding Georgetown to its second-lowest scoring mark of the season, Temple has now limited opponents to a mere 56.6 points per game. That’s right around last year’s mark of 56.8 points allowed per game.
“They do a very good at not giving you open looks,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
Sophomore forward Rahlir Jefferson has carved a niche for himself on defense as well. While Jefferson did score 10 points on Thursday, he’s been primarily looked at to provide a spark on defense when he comes off the pine.
While Jefferson and Randall focus primarily on handling the guards and wing players, senior forward Lavoy Allen and junior center Micheal Eric have done a good job at preventing opponents from infiltrating the paint.
“It might have been one of the toughest defenses [the Hoyas have faced this year],” Georgetown junior guard Jason Clark said. “They do a good job of packing it in and not letting you get many looks inside.”
The Owls aren’t going to light up the scoreboard every night. They don’t have to. As long as Dunphy is the coach and players like Randall, Jefferson and senior forward Lavoy Allen are on the court, the team’s defense should keep them in most games.
That being said, getting 30 points from one of your co-captains doesn’t hurt.