After starting conference play 0-1 for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the 7-6 Wichita State Shockers prepare to host the 10-3 Temple Owls on Sunday. The Owls were picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll.
Due to the American Athletic Conference’s scheduling, Temple and Wichita State only place once in the regular season.
Last season the team met three times over a 40-day span, all three being close games, with the Shockers taking two of the three.
The Shockers’ bigs were the key to Wichita State’s wins over Temple last season. In the three games, Shaquille Morris averaged 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over the three games. The Shockers also outrebounded the Owls by an average of +10.
Like Wichita State, Temple also started their conference season 0-1 after falling to UCF, the preseason favorite, by just five points.
Three Owls combined for 56 of Temple’s 73 points. Nate Pierre-Louis lead with 21 pts, then Shizz Alston Jr. contributed 18 points, and Quinton Rose with 17.
Right ahead of senior Markis McDuffie, Alston Jr. leads The American in scoring, averaging 19.2 points. Alston Jr. is also one of the nation’s best free throw shooters, ranking 19th in Division I, shooting 91 percent from the line.
Alston and Rose are Temple’s main scorers. Combined they account for over 65 percent of the Owls’ points. In addition, they combine for 6.2 steals per game. Temple averages 12.4 steals per game, which ranks 13th nationally.
Temple’s head coach, Fran Dunphy, is coaching his 30th and final year. He is is 2-2 all time against Wichita State.
Marshall and Dunphy are two of just seven coaches who have led two different schools to seven-or-more NCAA Tournament bids.
“Dunphy is a tremendous gentleman. I really, really like him and respect what he does as a basketball coach. Not only at Temple, but at Penn before that,” Marshall said. “He’s led two teams to more than a handful of NCAA Tournaments. He just does it in a very classy way. I like him and consider him a friend.”
The Owls lead the all-time series with Wichita State, 4-2, but the Shockers have won back-to-back.
All six games between Wichita State and Temple have been decided by eight points or less and two of them have gone to overtime.
If Wichita State wins against Temple it would end their two-game losing streak and extend their home winning streak to six.
Tipoff is at 3 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPNEWS.