When Clemson's schedule was released in late August, this game immediately popped off the schedule for me. Being born and raised minutes outside of Philadelphia, I have watched the Owls play my entire life. There are a couple of things that you need to know as fans about the Owls before tip off on Thursday night.
- The Owls will not be intimidated. I have been to games at a lot of ACC venues, and I have to say that they don't compare to the atmosphere of a Big 5 game at the Palestra in Philadelphia. It may only seat 8,700 fans, but when two of the five Philadelphia area schools take the floor, it seems like about 87,000. Facing an ACC opponent won't phase the seasoned Owls.
- Temple is well coached. Fran Dunphy has won as a head coach wherever he has gone. After being named Head Coach of the Pennsylvania Quakers, he won at least a share of the Ivy League title 10 times in the 17 years he was there. In 2006, Dunphy was named the successor to coaching legend John Chaney at Temple. After a rough first season (12-18) Dunphy has led the Owls to six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
The Tigers last met the Owls in the Championship game of the Inaugural Charleston Classic in 2008 where the Tigers won the tournament with a 76-72 victory.
The Owls are off to a rough start, dropping two decisions in a row to Kent State and Towson after a season opening victory against Pennsylvania. The Owls still seem to be searching for that go to player after the graduation of Khalif Wyatt in 2013. While Wyatt did provide much of the offense for the Owls last year, the starting lineup can all put up big points.
- Junior Guard Will Cummings (17.7ppg and 5.3apg) has turned into a consistent scorer, dropping a career high 18 points against both Penn and Towson and led Temple in scoring with 17 points in the loss to Kent State.
- Junior Forward Anthony Lee (16.0ppg and 10.7rpg) recorded double doubles in the first two games of the season (12pts, 12rebs & 16pts, 11rebs) before leading the Owls in scoring with 20pts and 9rebs against Towson.
- Freshman Forward Mark Williams (7.3ppg and 5.7rpg) has the potential to be a double figure scorer, scoring 11 vs. Kent State.
- Keep an eye out for Sophomore Forward Quenton DeCosey. (13.3ppg and 4.3rpg) DeCosey is a game breaker who can hit the three. (3-of-5 against Kent State while scoring 16). DeCosey was mentioned as a 2013-14 CBB Breakout Player by Sports Illustrated.
- Senior Guard Dalton Pepper (13.7ppg and 5.7rpg) rounds out the starting five as another scoring threat, scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 rebounds against Penn. He is the only senior on the team.
The Tigers main advantage will come off the bench where the Owls are historically weak and this year is no exception. The Owls average only 6.6 points per game outside of the starting five, so look for Clemson to run in transition and get the Temple big men in some foul trouble. Temple has had some trouble finishing games this season, blowing second half leads in all three games (15 against Penn and 8 against Towson). With only 10 players on the roster, only 7 see considerable playing time. Speaking of the Temple big men...
Temple is huge. Will Cummings will be the smallest player on the floor for Temple at 6'2". After that, DeCosey and Pepper fall in at 6'5", Williams checks in at 6'8" while Lee rounds out the top 5 at 6'9". 6'10" Sophomore Devontae Watson will also see playing time off the bench. This group of skyscrapers is why Temple is ranked 56th in the nation in rebounds per game at 42.0. Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith will have to stay out of foul trouble and the guards will have to crash the basket to limit the Owls on the offensive boards.
Don't get nervous if Clemson falls behind early, look for Coach Brad Brownell to push the tempo and get into the Temple bench while the Tigers look to go 4-0 for the first time since 2009.