Before the season, Temple avoided losing Lavoy Allen to the NBA. In its first win of this campaign, the 22nd-ranked Owls showed their defensive prowess hasn’t left them either.
They could get another chance to shine on that side of the ball as short-handed Toledo visits the Liacouras Center on Sunday.
After becoming Temple’s first player in nearly 30 years to average a double-double, Allen declared for the NBA draft but decided to return for his senior season. In Friday’s 62-56 win over Seton Hall, early foul trouble helped limit him to nine points and nine rebounds.
His absence was also perhaps a reason Temple trailed 18-13 midway through the first half. The Owls (1-0) responded by holding the Pirates without a field goal for nine minutes and later fended off a late rally.
“I don’t know we should be living on that (defense),” coach Fran Dunphy said. “I was proud how we managed the second half of the first half, and I was pretty proud of how we managed the first 15 minutes of the second half. Overall, I saw some good things and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Ramone Moore, the Atlantic 10’s sixth man of the year in 2009-10, had a team-best 14 points in his sixth career start. Juan Fernandez was the only other player in double figures with 12.
Temple held Seton Hall to 29.7 percent shooting overall and 5 of 17 (29.4 percent ) from 3-point range.
A matchup with the Rockets (0-1) could lead to an even better showing.
Last season, the Owls were third in the nation in allowing 56.8 points per game. They were also among the top 10 in Division I in opponents’ field goal percentage (38.3 percent) and defending the 3-pointer (28.5 percent).
Toledo, meanwhile, averaged the third-fewest points (54.2) during its 4-28 campaign. In coach Tod Kowalczyk’s debut with the program Wednesday night, the Rockets fell 84-45 at No. 13 Illinois while shooting 35.6 percent.
Due to injuries, Toledo had just five scholarship on its roster for that contest, and forward Delino Dear had a team-best 11 points in his collegiate debut.
The Rockets could get senior forward Anthony Wright back from a foot injury Sunday, but the program’s lone point guard—freshman J.T. Thomas—is continuing to recover from a broken foot.
“If we stay healthy, I think we’ll have a fighting chance to compete in our league,” said Kowalczyk, who spent the previous eight seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Toledo also extended its road losing streak to 33 on Wednesday and has one win in 50 games away from home since the start of the 2007-08 season. The Rockets, the only team to face ranked foes in their first two games, have also dropped seven in a row to Top 25 teams since beating Michigan State on Dec. 30, 2002.
Temple, which holds a 2-0 lead in the series, will face Toledo for the first time since 1986.