The Owls are off to a 2-0 start after notching an 82-75 win over Louisiana Tech on Monday. Temple guards Will Cummings, Quenton DeCosey and Josh Brown combined for 57 points, a very positive sign after the team as a whole scored just 40 in a 40-37 win over American last week.
They head to Brooklyn on Friday to play No. 4 Duke in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, a team they’re facing for the sixth time in nine years.
“We’ll rest a little bit,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “We’ll do some stretching, shooting, film work and talk about the [Louisiana Tech] game, but then we’ll get into the Duke game immediately. They’re a terrific team and we’ll welcome the opportunity, because they’re a great program. … We know what we’re in for and how good they are. It’s a wonderful challenge and that’s what we’re all thinking about.”
Duke is led by center Jahil Okafor, whose averaging 18.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks this season for the Blue Devils. He’s projected by many as the top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. As a team, Duke is second in the nation in scoring with 111 points per game. Temple’s defense must be up for the task.
“We’re going to put this win behind us and get ready for Duke,” said Cummings, who also had a career-high nine rebounds on Monday. “They’re a great team with a lot of talented players. We hope we can give a better defensive effort and manage the game more than we did tonight.”
One player that will help Temple tremendously is Jaylen Bond, who has missed Temple’s first two games with a sprained ankle. Dunphy has praised Bond for his defensive flexibility, as he’s able to guard every position on the court. He said there’s a chance he’ll make his first appearance on Friday.
“[Bond] seems ok, but he didn’t seem like he wanted to go yet so I’ll listen, learn and wait,” said Dunphy. “Hopefully he’ll want to go on Friday.”
Temple has defeated a Top 10 ranked opponent in five of the past six seasons, including Duke in 2011-12 season. In their last meeting, No. 2 Duke bested Temple 90-67. In the mind of coach Dunphy, playing Duke is an honor, regardless of the outcome.
“It’s hard to put value in playing Duke, but I do look at it as a privilege,” said Dunphy. “It’s a privilege to play college basketball, especially at this institution, because you get a chance to play against the best. They have a phenomenal program, coach [Kryzewski] is as good as it gets, and it’s a terrific opportunity that we’ll relish.”