Temple, La Salle approach game from different directions

Posted: January 30, 2010

For Temple, it's a bounce-back game. For La Salle, it is a possible momentum-builder. For both, it is an important Atlantic Ten contest between long-time city rivals.

Temple, which leads the series between the teams by 65-40, will be the host today at the Liacouras Center.

The Owls, who are currently No. 15 in the Top 25, had their six-game winning streak snapped by a 74-64 loss at Charlotte on Wednesday. The defeat dropped Temple into a tie for second place in the A-10, and left the Owls at 17-4 overall and 5-1 in the league.

La Salle, which is coming off an 80-73 victory at Fordham, is 11-9 and 3-3. Due to foot injuries sustained by senior guards Kimmani Barrett and Ruben Guillandeaux, the Explorers are missing two players who have combined to score 1,833 points during their college careers.

"We expected to be one of the better teams in the Atlantic Ten, and frankly, we've had awful luck with a couple of seniors who put a lot into our program," Explorers' coach John Giannini said. "And for us to stay in the top half of the league, a defeat of a top team would be huge."

After his team dropped its first league game of the season to Charlotte, Temple coach Fran Dunphy was not pleased with the play of the Owls at either end. He is expecting guards Ryan Brooks (16.2 ppg.), Juan Fernandez (13.0) and Luis Guzman (5.3), and forward Lavoy Allen (10.7 ppg., 10.0 rpg.) to return to the form that put Temple in the national rankings.

The Explorers are centered around 6-foot-5 senior guard Rodney Green, 6-10 freshman center Aaric Murray, and 6-7 forward Yves Mekongo. Green is second in the A-10 with 18.6 points per game. Murray is looking like the league's freshman of the year with 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. And Mekongo is consistent with his 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

La Salle leads the A-10 in rebound margin with plus-5.8. When the Explorers visited the Owls last Feb. 26 in the teams' most recent meeting, they came away with a 70-63 victory.

"We know full well what they did to us last year," Dunphy said. "I like their team. How hard they play. How they rebound. They will be ready to play."

Notes. Philadelphia's Big Six coaches whose teams play this weekend will join other coaches around the nation in taking part in the annual suits-and-sneakers campaign as an act of solidarity and support for the American Cancer Society. Coaches vs. Cancer and the National Association of Basketball Coaches are also involved in the promotion.


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

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