Temple has won the last two Atlantic 10 tournament titles but has not hoisted a regular-season championship trophy since 2002.
The 20th-ranked Owls can change that Saturday when they close their regular season at home against George Washington.
Before Temple (25-5, 13-2) begins defense of its conference tournament title, it is looking to secure the No. 1 seed and its first regular-season championship since sharing the former East Division crown with Saint Joseph’s in 2001-02.
Temple is tied with No. 25 Xavier atop the conference but holds the tiebreaker after defeating the Musketeers 77-72 on Jan. 20. Richmond trails both teams by one game.
The Owls kept pace with Xavier with a 57-51 victory at Saint Louis on Wednesday. Lavoy Allen posted his 12th double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds as Temple won its sixth in a row.
“They were leaving me open from 15 feet out,” said Allen, one of three players in the A-10 averaging a double-double. “Coach (Fran Dunphy) told me not to hesitate on taking my jump shots.”
The junior forward, who is looking to become the first Temple player in 39 years to average a double-double for a season, is scoring 15.0 points per game with 15.5 boards in his last four.
“The numbers he threw up were something,” Dunphy said Wednesday. “And again, that’s not the best feature of his game. He’s always in the right position defensively. He gives us that anchor.”
With Allen providing that defensive presence, Temple is first in the A-10 in field goal defense (38.0 percent) and scoring defense (56.8 points per game).
In the teams’ last meeting, the Owls won 65-53 at George Washington on March 7, holding the Colonials to 35.2 percent shooting while outrebounding them by 20.
Allen had 17 points and 16 rebounds while George Washington forward Damian Hollis scored 21 points with six boards. Hollis, though, has struggled in the last 12 games, averaging 10.0 points on 32.2 percent shooting.
Coach Karl Hobbs could use 6-foot-11 Joseph Katuka to help slow down Allen. The junior center is averaging 9.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in the last five games, and he scored a career-high 15 in an 80-71 loss to Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday.
Coming off a 75-70 victory over Charlotte last Saturday, George Washington (16-12, 6-9) had one of its worst defensive efforts as the Hawks shot a season-high 58.8 percent, going 9 of 15 from 3-point range.
“The thing we need to take into Temple is a level of intensity and regain our commitment to our mission,” Hobbs told the school’s official Web site. “I hate to go back to our youth, but we had great success on Saturday and this team is having trouble handling success.”
The Colonials have lost five of six on the road and could struggle to find success at the Liacouras Center, where Temple is 7-0 in A-10 play.
The last time the Owls went undefeated at home in conference play was 1999-00.
Playing his final home game, senior guard Ryan Brooks, who is averaging a team-high 14.5 points, needs 17 to pass Ed Coe (1,177) for 33rd all-time at Temple.
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