(21) Virginia Commonwealth (24-6) at Temple (22-8)
Sunday, March 10, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liacouras Center (10,206) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: CBS. Home Record: VCU 15-2, Temple 13-3. Away Record: VCU 8-2, Temple 8-4. Neutral Record: VCU 1-2, Temple 1-1. Conference Record: VCU 12-3, Temple 10-5. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Enjoying a six-game win streak, the Temple Owls are set to close out the 2012-13 regular-season on Sunday afternoon as they host the 21st- ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams in Atlantic 10 Conference action at the Liacouras Center.
The Owls also started off the season with a six-game win streak, so the team is peaking at just the right time with the A-10 Conference Tournament just around the corner. On Wednesday night, Temple went to Fordham and blew the doors off the Rams in a 74-55 final, which means the Owls have now won eight of the last nine and are 10-5 in conference play.
VCU was also in action earlier this week with a home date against Richmond, resulting in a 93-82 victory in order to move to 12-3 in league action, which has the Rams up near the top of the standings. The triumph was the third in a row and the ninth in the last 10 outings overall for VCU.
With VCU being one of the latest additions to the A-10, this meeting is actually the first-ever between the schools on the hardwood.
The Rams went from shooting 48.5 percent from the field in the first half against Richmond to converting 63.6 percent in the second half, in order to keep pace. More importantly, VCU was highly successful at the free-throw line on the night (28-of-36) compared to the Spiders who knocked down 11-of-15 at the charity stripe. Treveon Graham led five players in double figures with his 21 points, followed by fellow starters Juvonte Reddic and Darius Theus with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Off the bench Rob Brandenberg pitched in with 12 points and Melvin Johnson 11 for the hosts.
On the average, the Rams have been crushing the competition on the scoring department this season, winning games by a margin of more than 14 ppg. Graham has a lot to do with that success as he heads a list of four double-digit scorers with his 15.7 ppg. Coming up behind is Reddic (14.3 ppg) thanks to his 57.3 percent shooting from the floor. Reddic is also first on the unit with better than eight rebounds per contest. While Reddic maintains a presence in the paint, Troy Daniels (12.4 ppg) is the one out on the perimeter connecting on 3.5 3-point baskets per game at a 40.5 percent clip.
Khalif Wyatt shot only 4-of-11 from the floor against Fordham on the road, but he converted a perfect 10-of-10 at the free-throw line and ended up with a double-double consisting of 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in the victory over the Rams at Rose Hill Gym. Also posting a double-double for the visitors was Anthony Lee with 12 points and 10 boards, while Scootie Randall and Jake O'Brien pitched in with 14 and 10 points, respectively, for a squad that easily survived just 2-of-14 shooting beyond the arc.
In conference games the Owls don't leave much room for error, at least on the average, as they score 72.7 ppg but give up 69.1 ppg. Wyatt has been a one-man wrecking ball at the offensive end of the floor with not only 21.9 ppg, stemming from 38.0 percent shooting beyond the arc, he is also first on the unit with 60 assists through 15 contests as he continues to keep his teammates involved in the action. Randall (11.1 ppg) and Lee (10.1 ppg) have combined for more than 12 rpg, although the latter doesn't always seem to know what to do with the ball since he has just a single assist in 14 league starts.
With this high-profile contest closing out the regular season, the Owls could do themselves a huge favor by picking up a win here at home in order to raise their profile when postseason bids start rolling out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 75, Virginia Commonwealth 71
03/10 10:30:54 ET