#9 Villanova Wildcats (18-2) vs. Temple Owls (6-13)
When: Saturday, February 1, 4 p.m.
Where: Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, PA
Coverage: CBS Sports Network
Temple’s Previous Season Record: 24-10, Lost to Indiana in Third Round of NCAA Tournament
Key Players for Temple: #32 Dalton Pepper (6-5, 220) Sr., G; #2 Will Cummings (6-2, 175) Jr., G; #3 Anthony Lee (6-9, 230) Jr., F
Scouting Report: Temple is a young team that has a bright future, but for right now they’re a young team just trying to scrape by until the end of the season. Unless if somehow they go on a crazy streak, the NCAA tournament and the NIT are looking out of reach. They are currently the worst team in their conference and have yet to win a conference matchup. They lost a number of key players to graduation, including Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall. This year’s team consists of only one senior, so it won’t hit them as hard as last year’s graduation. However, the lone senior of this year’s squad is one of their best, holding the team up as best as he can. Dalton Pepper originally went to West Virginia and transferred to Temple after his sophomore season at WVU. After not seeing much action and given a very limited role, Pepper has really made a name for himself and has emerged to being the star of the Owls. Pepper is in the Top 3 when it comes to scoring in the new American Conference. He carries this team and has played all 40 minutes in a game numerous times for Temple. Pepper has had multiple 20+ point games. In the game last Sunday against Cincinnati, he kept the Owls in it by sinking 8 three pointers en route to a 33 point game. He is an offensive weapon and defenses should keep an eye on him, he can score from anywhere on the floor. He does not exactly have a preference, with his shot attempts being about a 50-50 split from the perimeter and everywhere else. Like Pepper, Will Cummings has been enjoying a solid season after not having a big role last season. Cummings is a quick, explosive guard. He is a slasher and loves to drive to the basket. He can finish pretty well, but he will get a large chunk of his points from the line should he be fouled. In his last three games combined he has gone 24 for 27 from the line, near automatic numbers. Cummings will occasionally take and make the three, but that is not his primary tendency. Temple also houses the best rebounder in the American, Anthony Lee. Lee averages nearly a double-double: 14.2 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. He is a good scorer in the post but if he gets hacked on the way up, don’t put your money him to make it all the time. He is shooting only 61.4% from the line. Another name to know and keep an eye out for is Quenton DeCosey. DeCosey is a sophomore guard that likes to drive the ball on offense like Cummings. He averages 15.6 points per game, he’ll take more threes than Cummings which is fine because he has been cold as of late. Granted, he is making 36.6% of his threes this season but in the last five games he is shooting a combined 3 for 20 from beyond the arc.
Outlook: The Wildcats are one win away from sweeping the Big 5. It looks like it will be an easy one as this is a Temple team that is just beat. Although they have lost 8 of their last 10 games, they found a spurt of life, recently beating Rutgers 88-82 after giving Cincinnati a scare in a close one. The Wildcats need to keep Pepper in check, he has been instrumental all season long and gets them going. They should also keep in mind that Cummings is also a reliable scoring option. One of Temple’s issues has been their defense, specifically defending the post, it has hurt them in the last few seasons and continues to be an issue this year. Aggressive scorers in the paint give them problems. This gives the green light for JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu. Pinkston has done a fine job so far this season and Ochefu has improved offensively as the season continues to roll. He is coming off of a solid 12 point performance that included a perfect 5 for 5 on the floor. When it comes to the other guys, Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, and James Bell will give too much for Temple to worry about at one time; scoring from the perimeter. The Wildcats are a multifaceted team and will give the Owls more than they can handle. The Owls simply do not have the manpower nor the depth to keep up with the Wildcats.