Owls eye up Minutemen in A-10 affairFeb 29, 2012 - 3:47 PM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 23rd-ranked Temple Owls will try to bounce back tonight on their annual Senior Night as they host the Massachusetts Minutemen in Atlantic 10 Conference action at the Liacouras Center.
Temple leads the all-time series with UMass 42-20 after its 73-67 victory over the Minutemen in last season's lone meeting, which took place in Amherst. The Owls won their first 21 games in the series with UMass, but the Minutemen have been more competitive since and have won 20 of the last 41 contests.
Derek Kellogg has let his Minutemen to a 19-9 overall record in his first year with the program. UMass has lost three of its last four games to drop to 8-6 in league action, which has put it in a tie for sixth place in the A-10. With two games remaining, the Minutemen can finish as high as second or as low as ninth in the ultra-competitive conference. Kellogg will have to instill confidence into his players after their 76-43 loss on Saturday to Dayton. UMass has not seen too much success against ranked foes lately, as it has a lost six in a row versus the top 25 in a streak that dates back to 2009.
Sophomore guard Chaz Williams is going to have to bounce back from his forgettable 2-of-12 shooting performance against Dayton if the Minutemen are going to have any shot at knocking off Temple. Williams is leading the team with 15.8 ppg and the conference with 6.2 assists per game. Raphiael Putney is second on the team with 10.1 points and 5.6 boards per game while Sean Carter is ripping down a team-high 6.2 rebounds per outing.
Fran Dunphy's Owls will return home for Senior Night with a chance to clinch at least a share of the A-10 regular season crown. Temple had its 11-game wining streak snapped its last time out as it dropped an 82-72 decision to cross-town rival Saint Joseph's on Saturday. Despite the recent loss, the Owls' 11-3 league record still has them in sole possession of first place. Temple's 22-6 overall record was built up behind its superb offense, as it leads the conference with an average of 75.6 ppg. UMass is a close second with 75.2 ppg. The Owls are allowing opponents to score 69.4 ppg.
Expect Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez, and Michael Eric to deliver tonight as they step onto the Liacouras Center's floor for the last time in their careers. Fernandez has been a scrappy point guard during his time with the program and has contributed 10.9 points and 4.0 assists per game this season. Eric is adding 8.5 points and 8.5 boards per game. Moore has developed into a superstar during his career. After scoring 4.5 points per game as a redshirted freshman, Moore is now leading the entire conference in scoring with 18.0 ppg. Junior guard Khalif Wyatt is netting 17.1 ppg, which has given Temple one of the nation's most dangerous backcourt combos. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson adds a frontcourt presence to give Temple a well-rounded squad.
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