A month ago, Temple earned its most impressive win of the season and its first in Philadelphia’s Big 5 series.
A victory Wednesday night won’t be nearly as notable, though it would keep the 19th-ranked Owls as the only unbeaten team in the series if they beat Penn at the Palestra.
The only game Temple (13-3) has played in the annual round-robin series between five of the city’s top programs was a 75-65 home victory over then-No. 3 Villanova on Dec. 13. The Owls have suffered one loss since then, to formerly top-ranked Kansas on Jan. 2.
Penn (1-10) was routed 103-65 by Villanova on Nov. 16 in its lone Big 5 game. That’s one of six losses this season by at least 15 points for the Quakers, who own the worst record in the Ivy League.
Penn hosts La Salle and St. Joseph’s in the next two Big 5 games, then Temple takes on both of those schools in late February. Villanova already defeated those two teams.
This season’s Temple-Penn matchup features an interesting twist with Quakers interim coach Jerome Allen taking on his former coach, the Owls’ Fran Dunphy. In 17 seasons at Penn, Dunphy earned 11 Ivy League titles and 310 wins, including a record 48 straight in conference play while Allen—the two-time league player of the year—was on his roster.
Dunphy will search for his third win in four games against his former team, and try to add to the Owls’ 42-22 series lead.
Temple has won nine of 10 overall, including a 68-64 overtime victory at Rhode Island on Sunday.
“This is a really good road win for us,” Dunphy said. “They’ve got good talent, good coaching and everything you need to be a successful top team in this league.”
Juan Fernandez scored 18 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts, including two big ones in overtime. The sophomore guard, who averages 13.4 points, was scoreless and went 0-for-10 from the field in his previous game.
Ryan Brooks reached double figures for the seventh straight game with 16 points.
Just as important as its clutch shooting, Dunphy’s team had another stellar defensive effort, limiting the Rams to 36.9 percent shooting. The Owls have only allowed four opponents to shoot at least 40.0 percent.
“We did a lot of good things today out there defensively,” Dunphy said. “They shot 37 percent which helped us. We made some big shots at big times.”
As they score a pedestrian 64.1 points per game, the Owls have been one of the nation’s top teams defensively, giving up an average of 56.2 points on 37.3 percent shooting.
That defense might not get much of a test against the Quakers (1-10), who are averaging 64.9 points and hitting 39.2 percent from the field. However, they are coming off their best shooting performance and their first win under Allen, 82-71 at Maryland-Baltimore County last Wednesday.
Penn shot 50.0 percent as Zack Rosen led the way with 28 points, nearly matching the career-high 30 he had in his previous game. The sophomore guard leads the Quakers with 16.9 points per game and had a team-best 12 in last season’s 78-53 loss to the Owls.
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