No. 16 Wichita State visits Temple

PHILADELPHIA — No. 16 Wichita State will be in search of its first-ever victory over Temple when they clash in an American Athletic Conference game on Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.

The Shockers (17-4, 7-2 in the AAC) have dropped the previous three meetings against the Owls (11-10, 3-6), the last one in November of 2011 at the Puerto Rico Tipoff, 78-74 in overtime.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Shockers lead the nation in road wins (71) and road winning percentage (.826). A loss at Houston on Jan. 20 ended an 11-game road winning streak, which had been the longest in the country.

It was only the seventh road loss in five seasons for the Shockers.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is well aware of the difficult challenge awaiting at Temple, even though the Owls have been inconsistent all season.

“They are playing really well right now,” Marshall said of Temple. “They just blew out UConn. Their nonconference schedule and nonconference RPI had to be in the top 10 in the country.

“They are, obviously, well-coached. Fran Dunphy has won 550-some odd games. He’s been doing it for a long time, at Penn and now at Temple. Great coach. They just do it right. They are not real complicated. They just guard you, they share the ball and they can all score it.”

The Shockers are led by Landry Shamet, who averages 14.6 points per game, one of four players who average in double figures along with Shaquille Morris (12.8), Darral Willis. Jr. (11.8) and Conner Frankamp (10.7).

Shamet has been struggling with his shot, most recently going 1-for-18 from beyond the arc. Before that stretch, he was the country’s top shooter from 3-point distance at 53 percent.

“I’ve met with him privately and encouraged him,” Marshall said of Shamet. “In timeouts I’ve told him if he ever doesn’t take a wide-open shot that I am going to bring him out. Just keep shooting.”

Temple played arguably its best all-around game in an 85-57 win over visiting Connecticut on Sunday. Four players scored in double figures led by Shizz Alston Jr. (18) and Quinton Rose (17).

The Owls committed a season-low five turnovers and also compiled a season-best 20 assists. It was a big improvement from the previous game, when the Owls were crushed 75-42 at Cincinnati thanks in large part to 20 turnovers.

“We felt like we had a poor performance against Cincinnati and wanted to show we are a good team,” Alston said. “We needed to get that win back.”

Wins have been scarce for Temple despite high hopes before the season. There’s still plenty of time to make a run before the conference tournament begins.

“We just kept at it and kept the pressure up, didn’t let down,” senior forward Obi Enechionyia told the Temple News after scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds, eight of which were off the offensive glass.

“We’ve had opportunities to have games like this, this season as well as a lot of games since I’ve been at Temple. We just took our foot off the pedal, and tonight we didn’t.”