The 21st-ranked Owls face their toughest test of the young season when they meet the defending Pac-10 champion Golden Bears in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., on Thanksgiving night.
Temple began this season with a 62-56 win over Seton Hall and hasn’t played since easily defeating Toledo 82-49 on Nov. 14. Besides Cal (2-0), this tournament also features Boston College, Georgia, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
While not ranked, Cal, Georgia and Wisconsin all received votes in this week’s poll. After this tournament, the Owls face a tough December that includes visits to Maryland and seventh-ranked Villanova as well as a home matchup with No. 16 Georgetown.
After an 11-day break, Temple will play three games in four days in this tournament.
“Rest our bodies, be prepared for California or whatever teams we play against,” junior guard Ramone Moore said. “I think that’s an advantage for us to get a nice long break. We’ll watch film and do a lot of work on those guys.”
Temple has been paced by a balanced attack, led by Moore’s 13.0 points per game. Junior center Michael Eric is averaging 11.0 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds while junior guard Juan Fernandez (11.0) and senior forward Lavoy Allen (10.5) are also scoring in double figures.
Those four players, along with fellow starter Scootie Randall, combined for 59 of the 82 points against Toledo.
Coach Fran Dunphy, though, was more pleased with the way the Owls handled the ball. They had 26 assists to six turnovers after having 13 assists and 18 turnovers against Seton Hall.
“I think we’re getting better, that’s what you hope,” Dunphy said. “We were sloppy at the end of the (opening) game. We eliminated some of that sloppiness today.”
Cal has been impressive despite losing its top four scorers from last season. The Bears are coming off an 89-64 win over New Mexico on Saturday after opening with an 80-63 victory over Cal State-Northridge on Nov. 16.
Harper Kamp scored a career-high 25 points against the Lobos in his third start in three seasons, junior guard Jorge Gutierrez also had a career best with 20 points to go with six rebounds, and freshman guard Gary Franklin hit four 3-pointers en route to 16 points.
Gutierrez is averaging 19.0 points and 5.5 assists, while Kamp is contributing 18.5 points per game.
“Oh man, I think we can be really good,” said Gutierrez, who made his 15th start in 65 career games. “We don’t really listen to what people on the outside say about us.”
This is the first meeting between these teams since Temple won 51-42 in the championship game of the 1973 Quaker City Classic. The Owls have won the last three meetings - all in title games of tournaments - with Cal taking the other game 49-43 at home in 1935.