(23) Temple (23-6) at Fordham (10-18)
Saturday, March 3, 4:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rose Hill Gym (3,470) -- Bronx, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Temple 12-1, Fordham 9-5. Away Record: Temple 9-4, Fordham 1-13. Neutral Record: Temple 2-1, Fordham 0-0. Conference Record: Temple 12-3, Fordham 3-12. Series Record: Temple leads, 39-13.
GAME NOTES: The 23rd-ranked Temple Owls seek their first outright conference championship since the 1989-90 season, as they close out the regular-season with an Atlantic 10 showdown with the Fordham Rams in the Bronx.
The Owls earned a share of their record 10th A-10 regular-season crown with a thrilling 90-88 overtime win against Massachusetts this week. The victory was the 12th in the last 13 games for Temple, which moved to 12-3 in conference play, one game ahead of Saint Louis (11-4).
Fordham is at the opposite end of the A-10 spectrum, residing in the league basement at 3-12. The Rams have lost seven of their last eight games, including a 78-58 rout at the hands of Rhode Island, which is just above Fordham in the conference standings (4-11).
Temple owns a 39-13 advantage in the all-time series with Fordham and has won five of the last six meetings, including a 78-60 decision at the Liacouras Center in early February.
Senior Night was certainly a celebration for Temple this week, as the team posted a 90-88 overtime victory against UMass to clinch a share of the A-10 crown. Khalif Wyatt led the charge in victory, posting a game-high 26 points. Micheal Eric was instrumental in the win also, recording a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Juan Fernandez poured in 18 points and Ramone Moore finished with 13 for Temple in the win.
Usually a defensive-minded team, the Owls have flipped the script and enjoy the fruits of serious scoring punch this season. Temple leads is shooting a healthy .470 from the floor, bolstered by a .400 mark from long range, leading to 76.1 ppg. Moore and Wyatt are one of the top scoring duos in the country. Moore leads the A-10 in that department at 17.9 ppg. Wyatt is third in the conference at 17.4 ppg. Fernandez is the team's top distributor (113 assists) and can also fill up the basket at 11.1 ppg. The trio have combined for 163 of the team's 213 three-pointers to date. Eric (9.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg), who has missed a good portion of the season due to injury, has re-established his presence in the paint and given the team balance.
Branden Frazier netted 20 points and Devon McMillan came off the bench to tally 10, but it wasn't enough, as Fordham dropped a 20-point decision to Rhode Island this week. The Rams really struggled shooting the ball, converting just 31.6 percent from the floor, including an ugly 4-of-23 from three-point range (.174). Team-leader Chris Gaston was not exempt from the poor performance, hitting just 3-of-11 from the floor and finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
A lack of offense has been a real problem for Fordham this season, with the team averaging a mere 62.0 ppg. The team has lacked consistency shooting the basketball, hitting just .379 from the floor overall and .276 from behind the arc. The Rams have wasted a strong season by Gaston, who is averaging a near double-double with team-highs of 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Frazier leads the team in assists (114) and is the only other double-digit threat on the roster heading into the season finale at 11.8 ppg.
Gaston has certainly played well this season, but the supporting cast for Fordham has failed the team. There is plenty of depth on the Temple roster though, and the Owls should earn a double-digit win in this one en route to the outright conference crown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 74, Fordham 59
03/03 10:41:34 ET