Temple-Duke Preview


This is Duke's only game in a 17-day span. It appears to be the only potentially tough one for quite a bit longer than that.

Temple beat the Blue Devils last season and certainly could provide a challenge to the nation's second-ranked team Saturday in a matchup of unbeatens in East Rutherford, N.J.

"This will be a good one. We're gonna play an undefeated Temple team with three kids that really hurt us last year who are all back," coach Mike Krzyzewski told Duke's official website.

This game is at the same arena where the Blue Devils defeated Temple in the 1999 NCAA tournament to start a nine-game win streak in this series. The Owls halted that run with a 78-73 home victory Jan. 4 over a Duke team that was ranked fifth.

It marked the fourth straight season Temple (6-0) has upset a top 10 team.

"I think for these guys it gives them a jolt of confidence that we all need that we can play at the highest level," coach Fran Dunphy said.

While Temple plays three top 10 opponents in its next eight games, the Blue Devils (8-0) don't face a ranked team in their next seven. Their only three remaining games in December are at home against lesser competition - Cornell, Elon and Santa Clara.

They've had a week off since beating Delaware 88-50 last Saturday and will get a 10-day break after this matchup.

"We'll see how we handle this break from competition," Krzyzewski said.

Temple did have a much tougher time with the teams' one common opponent, holding off Delaware 80-75 on Nov. 25.

That's the only time the senior-laden Owls have allowed more than 66 points, but they're facing a Duke offense averaging 78.8 points and shooting 48.1 percent.

Mason Plumlee has led the way, ranking second in the ACC with 19.6 points per game while averaging a conference-best 11.0 rebounds. He's the only player in the country averaging at least 18 points and 10 boards while shooting better than 60 percent (65.4).

"You're not gonna stop him from doing the things that he does," Dunphy said. "... You just wanna limit what the damage that he does."

The 6-foot-10 senior could have a big advantage against a Temple team with only two regulars - starter Anthony Lee and fellow 6-9 forward Jake O'Brien - who are taller than 6-6. Plumlee had 16 points and 13 boards in last season's meeting while big brother Miles - also 6-10 and now in the NBA - scored 17.

The Plumlees couldn't make up for the lack of production from Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, who accounted for 11 points. Curry, averaging 15.1 points this season, is expected to return after missing the Delaware game with an injured ankle. Kelly stepped up with a season-high 18 points, and he's 5 for 9 from 3-point range over the last two games.

Scootie Randall tops the Owls with 16.7 points per game after scoring 21 and hitting 5 3-pointers in a 76-61 win over Villanova on Wednesday.

Fellow senior Khalif Wyatt shot a season-worst 4 of 16 as part of an up-and-down campaign in which he's averaged 15.2 points. He's been held below double figures twice - the same number as all of last season, when he averaged 17.1.

While Wyatt scored 22 in January's win over Duke, senior Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson added 17 but enters the rematch having not reached double figures in three straight games.

The Owls are off to their best start since opening 14-0 in 1987-88.

"Overall, they believe they can win," Krzyzewski said, "and they win most of the time."

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