Villanova, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Temple Owls play their final Big 5 game of the season, as they head out to the suburbs to tangle with the seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats at the Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
Temple has won twice as many games as it has lost, and the team is seeking its third straight win here after knocking off La Salle (58-57) and Towson (76-64) in the last week. The Owls will be on the road for their next clash as well, visiting Delaware on Thursday, before returning to Philadelphia to battle nationally-ranked Kansas on Dec. 22.
Villanova has taken down all comers here in the first month of the season, including formidable opponents in VCU, Michigan and Illinois. The win over the Fighting Illini was the team's most recent, as it claimed a 73-59 decision in last Tuesday's matchup in New York City as part of the Jimmy V Classic. The Wildcats will take on former Big East Conference rival Syracuse next Saturday in the second leg of their current four-game homestand.
Temple leads the all-time series with Villanova, 44-42, and the teams have split the last four meetings. The Owls won the most recent matchup at the Pavilion back in 2012.
Will Cummings used a near-perfect 15-of-17 effort at the free-throw line to tally a game-high 22 points in helping Temple top Towson the last time out. Quenton DeCosey added 16 points in going 9-of-11 at the charity stripe, while Daniel Dingle and Jaylen Bond chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Owls shot just 40 percent from the field, but held the Tigers to only 31.7 percent, despite the visitors draining 9-of-19 3-point tries. TU was beaten on the boards, 50-38, but committed only six turnovers.
Cummings and DeCosey are averaging 14.9 and 14.3 ppg, respectively, as the only players averaging double figures at the moment. As a team, Temple is putting up only 62.4 ppg, but allowing just 60.6 ppg. Although they are coming up just shy of the break-even point in terms of rebounding margin, they goad the opposition into 12.4 turnovers per outing.
Villanova used a blistering 61.5 percent shooting effort in the second half to push its way past Illinois earlier in the week. Dylan Ennis hit 7-of-10 field goal attempts to score 18 points, while Daniel Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard pitched in with a dozen each, and Josh Hart came off the bench to tally 10 points to go with his team-high seven rebounds. The Illini were limited to 31.3 percent shooting from 3-point range, and they were outscored at the foul line, 11-4.
Ennis (12.9 ppg) and Hilliard (10.7 ppg) are the only two players averaging double digits in the scoring column for coach Jay Wright's club, which utilizes a more balanced approach toward achieving its solid scoring average of 75.1 ppg. The Wildcats have also excelled on defense, yielding a mere 56.1 ppg with foes shooting just 39 percent from the floor, which includes a 26 percent showing from beyond the arc. Add favorable margins in both rebounding (+3.8) and turnovers (+5.4) and it's not difficult to see why Villanova is off to such a tremendous start.