Temple-Texas A&M Preview

Playing a morning contest in the losers’ bracket is not how

Temple expected to conclude its stay at the Old Spice Classic.

Trying to salvage something positive from what is likely to be

an overall disappointing tournament experience, the No. 21 Owls

face one more hurdle Sunday against Texas A&M in the

consolation final in Orlando, Fla.

Temple (3-1) is the only ranked school in the eight-team

tournament field, but its 11 a.m. EST start Sunday could be the

Owls’ last game for a while as a member of the Top 25 due to

Thursday’s 57-50 opening-round loss to California.

Though they’re not part of the title game in prime time, the

Owls do have a chance to end the event on a positive note after

bouncing back to beat Georgia 65-58 on Friday.

“After that loss (to Cal), it hurt us a lot,” said forward

Scootie Randall, who had a career-high 18 points Friday after

totaling 15 in his previous three contests. “I think we prepared a

lot for that game, and for us to lose that game like that it was

hard on us over the hours after the game. We had to be

prepared.”

The Owls must be prepared to face Texas A&M (4-1), which

returns five of its top seven scorers from last season’s 24-10 team

that suffered a second-round NCAA tournament loss in overtime to

Purdue.

The Aggies, who opened the event with a 67-65 defeat to Boston

College on Thanksgiving, rolled to a 74-45 victory over Manhattan

on Friday.

“That’s who we are,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “I told the guys

at halftime, ‘Guys, we can’t have dips. We’ve got to keep going

upward and then have small dips. We have major dips. We have them

in practice, we have them in games.”

The only previous meeting between these schools was Temple’s

60-44 victory during the 1957-58 season.

The Owls would like a similar result to help build some

confidence with games against Maryland and No. 16 Georgetown in the

next two weeks.

Temple led by only two at halftime Friday but started the second

half on a 15-6 run and slowly pulled away from the Bulldogs. Ramone

Moore had 14 points with eight rebounds as the Owls shot 49.0

percent after making 33.3 percent against Cal.

“I think our whole team played better,” coach Fran Dunphy said.

“I’m proud of what they did.”

The only Owls player averaging in double figures at 11.3 points

per game, Moore bounced back after being held to five on 2-of-11

shooting versus Cal. Temple is 14-2 when the junior guard scores 10

points or more.

Moore and the Owls hope to get off to a strong start against a

Texas A&M squad that has outscored opponents 199-125 during the

first half this season.

Leading scorer Khris Middleton (15.4 ppg) is averaging 19.5

points and 7.5 rebounds in the tournament.