Kent State (1-0) at Temple (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 11, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liacouras Center (10,200) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Kent State 1-0, Temple 0-0. Away Record: Kent State 0-0, Temple 1-0. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0, Temple 0-0. Conference Record: Kent State 0-0, Temple 0-0. Series Record: Temple leads, 3-1.
GAMES NOTES: A pair of teams looking to build off of season-opening wins will be paired up at the Liacouras Center on Monday night when the Temple Owls host the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Kent State didn't receive much of a challenge in its season opener on Friday as it easily took care of Ohio Northern, a team from outside the Division I ranks, with an 84-48 decision. Still, the Golden Flashes are a team to be reckoned with as they are coming off a strong 2012-13 campaign when they amassed 21 victories, making them one of four teams in the Mid-American Conference to have at least 20 wins. Dating back to last season, the Golden Flashes have won eight of their last 10 games, with the two losses coming by a combined 17 points. Kent State will take on Seton Hall, also on the road, as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic next.
It wasn't as easy a victory but it was a win nonetheless for Temple as it battled regional Big Five rival Penn on Saturday. The Owls led by as many as 15 points in the second half but some shaky defense down the stretch allowed the Quakers to take a two-point lead with less than two minutes to play. However, Dalton Pepper and Will Cummings made some key baskets in the final minutes to help the Owls escape with a 78-73 triumph. The win was the first for the Owls as a member of the brand new American Athletic Conference, after they spent the previous 31 years competing in the Atlantic 10. Temple, a team with at least 20 wins in six straight years, faces Towson Thursday.
Scootie Randall dropped in 31 points to lead Temple to an 80-66 victory over Kent State in last year's season opener. The win was the third for Temple in four all-time meetings with the Golden Flashes.
Although it didn't come against a Division I opponent, the Golden Flashes' effort on defense in the season opener was a strong one. The Golden Flashes allowed just 15 total field goals on 29.4 percent shooting to Ohio Northern, while forcing 21 turnovers. Such a showing on defense took some pressure off of the offense, which is trying to rebuild after losing its top two scorers from last season. Derek Jackson filled in as the go-to scorer on Friday as he scored 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Darren Goodson also got into double figures with 11 points. Goodson was a solid complementary offensive threat last year when he averaged 8.4 points per game but now he and Jackson, who redshirted last season, are being called to replace the output from Chris Evans (16.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Randal Holts (14.7 ppg). Neither was leaned on too heavily, with 11 players getting at least 10 minutes on the court, but going forward the rotation will be tighter.
Temple has also been tasked with replacing a major piece of its offense as Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Khalif Wyatt and his 20.5 points per game are no longer around. Pepper and Cummings really picked up the pace in the first game without Wyatt. Pepper scored 19 points and was also a rebound shy of a double-double while also hitting three shots from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Cummings tallied 18 points and handed out a team-high four assists. However, Cummings did struggle with ball control as he committed six turnovers. In the paint, Anthony Lee (12 points, 12 rebounds) performed extremely well on both ends as he blocked three shots to go with his double-double. More outings like that could go a long way for the Owls. Meanwhile, newcomer Quenton DeCosey, who was in the starting lineup, really struggled. DeCosey is a forward with great range but despite scoring 12 points he netted just 4-of-19 shots from the field including one 3-pointer in 10 attempts. In all Temple shot at just a 39.7 percent clip, a number that clearly needs to improve.
Head coach Fran Dunphy has got to like what he saw from Pepper and Lee on Friday. The Owls should expect more of the same and for DeCosey and Cummings to correct their errors at the Liacouras Center, a place where Temple is extremely difficult to beat.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 72, Kent State 67
11/11 10:46:02 ET