UMass-Temple Preview

Despite coming off its first loss in more than a month, Temple
is on the verge of clinching the top seed for the Atlantic 10
tournament. The team’s high-scoring backcourt getting untracked
before it begins might be more important.

Returning home for Senior Night may help that cause – and in
recovering from a loss to a rival – as the 23rd-ranked Owls try
capture at least a share of the regular-season conference title
against Massachusetts on Wednesday night.

Temple (22-6, 11-3) last claimed a piece of the A-10
championship in 2010 but hasn’t won it outright since 2000,
something it would clinch with wins in this game and Saturday at
Fordham.

Guards Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez, both among the top 35
scorers in Temple history, will be honored in their final home game
Wednesday along with starting center Micheal Eric and little-used
reserve Jake Godino.

Another subpar outing from Moore and Fernandez, however, proved
costly Saturday as Temple had an 11-game winning streak snapped
with an 82-72 road loss to Big 5 foe Saint Joseph’s.

“Human nature is you get their attention more after a loss than
after a win,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “… We weren’t tough enough,
we weren’t smart enough, we weren’t knowledgeable enough at who we
are.”

Moore, leading the A-10 with 18.0 points per game, scored 15 but
was 6 of 15 from the field. Fernandez had three points, about eight
below his season average.

“We just have to bounce back,” said Moore, shooting 32.4 percent
over the last three games while averaging 12.0 points.

He’s gone 1 for 5 from 3-point range in each of those games.
Fernandez, 1 for 11 from the field in his last two contests, is
among the conference leaders with 56 3-pointers but has not made
more than one in six of the last seven games.

Even junior guard Khalif Wyatt had a quiet day Saturday with 11
points after averaging 20.9 in his first seven games this
month.

Eric was one of the few bright spots, posting his second
straight double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, but Temple
remains a team that relies on perimeter play.

The Owls rank among the national leaders in 3-point shooting at
40.5 percent. They’re 3-4 when not making at least 35.0
percent.

Temple has won 33 of 34 at home, and UMass (19-9, 8-6) has lost
eight straight at the Liacouras Center since Jan. 27, 2001. The
most recent meeting came in Amherst and went to overtime, with the
Owls winning 73-67 on March 2 as Fernandez scored 19.

While Temple seeks the conference tournament’s top seed, the
Minutemen would be happy with one of the first-round byes that go
to the league’s top four finishers. They’re tied for sixth but
within a game of fourth place.

UMass is looking to bounce back from its most lopsided loss,
76-43 at Dayton on Saturday. The Minutemen shot a season-worst 25.0
percent en route to their lowest-scoring performance in more than a
decade.

“It wasn’t fun to watch, it wasn’t fun to play and it wasn’t
UMass basketball,” coach Derek Kellogg said.

It was an anomaly for Kellogg’s team, which had been leading the
conference with 76.4 points per game. Temple is the new leader at
75.6.

The Minutemen have lost three of four. Top scorer Chaz Williams
was held to 11 points in each defeat, shooting 28.2 percent, and
scored 29 in last Wednesday’s win over Xavier.