Temple (10-3) at Xavier (7-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cintas Center (10,250) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: CBSSN Regional. Home Record: Temple 6-1, Xavier 4-2. Away Record: Temple 3-1, Xavier 1-2. Neutral Record: Temple 1-1, Xavier 2-2. Conference Record: Temple 0-0, Xavier 0-0. Series Record: Temple leads, 13-10.
GAME NOTES: The Temple Owls and Xavier Musketeers get their conference schedules started on Thursday night as the two teams collide in Atlantic 10 Conference action at the Cintas Center.
Fran Dunphy's Owls are a solid 10-3 on the season, with a marquee win over a top-five foe in Syracuse back on Dec. 22 highlighting the campaign thus far. Temple tried to recreate that magic in Lawrence this past weekend, but came out on the wrong end of a 69-62 hard-fought decision to the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
Chris Mack's fourth season at the helm at Xavier has come with mixed reviews. The Musketeers are hovering just over .500 at 7-6, but have hit a rough patch to close out non-conference action, losing each of their last four games, including a 66-59 setback at Wake Forest in the Skip Prosser Classic back on Jan. 2.
Temple holds a 13-10 series advantage against Xavier, with the Musketeers sporting a 10-8 mark against the Owls at home. Temple won last year's meeting, an 85-72 decision in Philadelphia.
The Owls once again proved they belong with the big boys, hanging with the Jayhawks at the Allen Fieldhouse for almost the entire game, before faltering down the stretch and dropping a heart-breaking seven-point decision. Khalif Wyatt was once again masterful, netting a game-high 26 points to lead the way in defeat. Anthony Lee and Will Cummings added 11 points each in support. Temple only committed four turnovers in the entire game, but could not take advantage by shooting a mere .302 from the floor.
Despite rather modest offensive numbers at 70.8 ppg, Temple enjoys a +6.2 scoring margin and has shown signs of being a streaky team at that end of the floor. Wyatt has really elevated his game of late and leads the team in both scoring (16.2 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg). Scootie Randall's return to the lineup after an injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign has been key as well. Randall is netting 12.5 ppg and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game. Lee rounds out the top scorers on the roster at 11.3 ppg and is also instrumental on the glass (7.1 rpg).
Xavier has really struggled offensively during its current slide, failing to reach the 60-point mark in any of the last four games. The Musketeers netted just 59 points in the most recent loss to Wake Forest. The team battled back from an 11-point deficit in the second half, but stretches of offensive futility doomed the comeback bid. Travis Taylor has a strong games, converting 9-of-10 shots from the floor and posting a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Semaj Christon added 14 points, while Jeff Robinson chipped in with 10 off the bench.
The Musketeers are scoring just 65.0 ppg this year, although their have been efficient at times, coming in at a respectable .468 field-goal percentage. The roster however, is void of a go-to-guy that can take over a game with his scoring. Three of the team's five starters do averaging double figures, led by Christon's 13.4 ppg. Christon is also the team's top distributor at 4.8 apg. Taylor is next in the scoring column at 11.8 ppg, while pacing the team on the boards (7.1 rpg). Dee Davis adds an even 10.0 ppg and is the team's top sniper at .431 from behind the arc (22-of-51).
Despite the disappointing record thus far Xavier is still a tough team in its own building. Still, Temple has certainly played well outside of its own building this year and behind Wyatt, the team should start league play on a high note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 66, Xavier 61
01/10 10:36:18 ET