Temple will face a measuring stick in Richmond

Posted: February 17, 2011

Some might argue that Temple's victory over Rhode Island was first-rate. Others might say the Owls proved they are legitimate by winning at Dayton.

But Temple, ranked 23d nationally, was expected to beat Rhode Island and Dayton. If there's a test to determine just how good the Owls are, it could come Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.

That's when Temple takes on Richmond in an Atlantic Ten showdown for second place in the conference. The Owls (19-5, 9-2 A-10) and Spiders (20-6, 9-2) are a game behind 24th-ranked Xavier.

This game could have huge NCAA tournament seeding ramifications. But don't say that to Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"We just appreciate how good Richmond is and how well-coached they are," said Dunphy, whose 19-game home winning streak is on the line. "So we know that it is going to be a great challenge for us.

"But there won't be any other words other than let's go play a good team. And we have to play our best to win this game."

Under sixth-year coach Chris Mooney, a former Archbishop Ryan High standout, the Spiders have won 20 or more games for three consecutive seasons. Going into last night, this season's squad was leading the A-10 in field-goal percentage (47.7 percent), three-point field-goal percentage (41.1), and field-goal-percentage defense (40.2).

The Spiders are led by Justin Harper, the reigning A-10 player of the week. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound senior forward earned his third such honor after averaging 21 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots in last week's victories over George Washington and St. Louis.

For the season, the Richmond native is averaging 18 points and 6.7 rebounds. He also leads the A-10 in field-goal percentage (57.1) and three-point field-goal percentage (49.6).

Senior guard Kevin Anderson (15.8 points, 3.6 assists) and senior center and Springfield (Delco) High graduate Dan Geriot (10.2) are the Spiders' other double-figure scorers.

With those three leading the way, Richmond has posted victories over No. 11 Purdue, Arizona State, Seton Hall, and Wake Forest.

Temple takes a six-game winning streak into Thursday's game.

Junior guard Ramone Moore (15 points) is the leading scorer for the Owls, who are one win shy of their fourth consecutive season with 20 or more victories. Junior swingman Scootie Randall (11.6) and senior power forward Lavoy Allen (10.7, seven rebounds) also average double digits. Allen, who missed Saturday's game at Dayton because of a sprained left ankle, is expected to play.

Junior point guard Juan Fernandez (9.7) and sophomore reserve guard Khalif Wyatt (9.3) round out the Owls' balanced attack.

Temple also boasts the top-scoring defense in the A-10, holding opponents to an average of 61.8 points. Temple opponents are shooting just 40.4 percent from the field.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter: @pompeysgridlock.

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