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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 1, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Temple 1-2, Rutgers 6-5. Away Record: Temple 1-1, Rutgers 0-2. Neutral Record: Temple 3-2, Rutgers 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 0-0, Rutgers 0-0. Series Record: Temple leads, 32-18.
GAME NOTES: Then Temple Owls will ring in the New Year by opening up their American Athletic Conference schedule on the road against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
The first 10 games have produced as many wins as losses for Fran Dunphy's Owls, who have quite a bit of work to do if they hope to make a seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Temple did win its last game on Dec. 21 against LIU Brooklyn (101-65), but that came on the heels of a puzzling, 90-89 letdown in overtime at home against Texas Southern. Temple travels south to battle UCF next.
Rutgers was beginning to pick up some steam, but has been off since winning back-to-back games against Army (75-72) and UNC-Greensboro (89-72). The modest winning streak has allowed the Scarlet Knights to inch closer to the .500 mark yet again, in their first season under head coach Eddie Jordan. Rutgers will play at home again this Saturday against No. 14 Louisville.
The series between these two programs has been on hold since 2006, when Temple ran away with a 77-54 victory. The loss ended a four-game win streak for Rutgers against the Owls, who lead the proceedings by a count of 32-18.
After struggling against Texas Southern, Temple looked like an entirely different team against LIU Brooklyn. The Owls shot a sizzling 61.3 percent from the field, which included an impressive 15-of-27 effort from beyond the arc. Dalton Pepper led the way, nailing six 3-pointers and finishing with a double-double consisting of 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Even after losing 2012-13 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Khaliff Wyatt to graduation, the Owls have still managed to keep up an impressive scoring rate. They are netting 81 ppg, ranking third in the AAC, while connecting on 46.7 percent of their shots from the floor. Will Cummings (17.7 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Pepper (17.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) have been the scoring staples for Temple, although Quenton DeCosey (14.7 ppg) and Anthony Lee (14.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg) can not be ignored. Lee's presence inside has been especially critical, though he has not had a double-double in the last two games, after doing so in three straight.
Myles Mack nailed a 3-pointer with three seconds to play to push Rutgers past Army the last time out. Mack had missed his first three 3-point attempts in the contest, but finished with 18 points to go with seven assists. The Scarlet Knights struggled from beyond the arc as a whole, as they were outscored there (33-6) by the Black Knights.
A slow start to the season has been gradually wiped away by Mack (16.5 ppg, 4.3 apg), who leads the team in scoring, netting at least 20 points in four straight games before the matchup with Army. The 5-foot-9 guard has also improved as a distributor this season, assisting on nearly twice as many field goals per game as a year ago. Kadeem Jack (14 ppg, 7.1 rpg) has been the more consistent force on offense, although he was held to a season-low five points by the Black Knights. He had scored in double figures in every other game prior to that effort. J.J. Moore (12.6 pg) is another solid scorer, while Jerome Seagears (9.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) lends a hand in the backcourt.
Playing at home has not been much of a benefit for Rutgers, which is just 6-5 at the RAC this season. The Owls are likely to cool off from beyond the arc after their display against LIU Brooklyn, but they should still be able to hit enough shots to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 78, Rutgers 74
01/01 10:32:17 ET
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