Duke travels to Philly for the second and final leg of their Big Five tour, where they'll find a confident Temple team ready to take them on.
Juan Fernandez told Philly.com that "I donât think we are ever going to approach a game by saying let us lose by less points. No team should approach a game like that, especially not us. Thatâs not how weâve done it in the past few years. And thatâs not our mentality. We are practicing to beat Duke. And it will be a statement if we win."
That's fair to say.
Under Fran Dunphy, Temple has been a very well coached team.
Since moving across town to Temple from Penn, Dunphy has put together seasons of 12-18, 21-13, 22-12, 29-6 and 26-8. That's pretty impressive.
Temple is a basketball school, but it's not necessarily the easiest place to sustain success and that they have says a lot about the program.
So far this season, they've lost to Purdue, Bowling Green and Texas.
They've also beaten common opponents Penn 73-67 (toss out Big Five losses as they know each other very well) and Western Michigan 69-55.
The Owls have also knocked off Villanova but again, don't read too much into Big Five wins or losses.
After losing to Texas on the 17th of December, they beat Rice, Buffalo and Delaware, but none easily.
Rice, no powerhouse, lost by just seven, Buffalo lost 87-85 in overtime and Delaware by just 66-63.
In short, they've struggled some lately.Â That may have to do with not having big man Michael Eric, who has been out with a kneecap injury. Prior to that, he was averaging 10.5 ppg and 11.3 rpg.
Rookie Anthony Lee, 6-9 and 205, is averaging 5.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg. He's also playing 21 minutes and averaging nearly three fouls in that time.
Their only other big man is 6-10 freshman Jimmy McDonnell, who is pulling less than two minutes per game and who weighs just 190.
After that, the team gets a lot smaller, which puts Temple at a severe size disadvantage.Â Duke sports the Plumlee brothers and Ryan Kelly, and last time out, against an also undersized Penn, they scored 38 points and pulled down 33 rebounds.
The flipside of size is that you have to chase smaller people of course, and we'll see how that works out.
Temple is averaging 75 ppg, but Duke is putting up 83, which tends to suggest that Duke is both bigger and that they run better as well.
They could also hammer the Devils from three point range, and if that's the case, Fernandez has taken about 35% of Temple's three pointers.Â Ramone Moore, Eric Brown and Khalif Wyatt have taken the vast majority of the rest. No one is a terrifying three point shooter in the mold of JJ Redick or Jimmer Fredette, but you never know when someone can go off and hit a whole bunch of them.
We think most of you will understand the phrase "pull a Bootsie."
For Duke there is an obvious advantage inside, but Duke's perimeter is developing in interesting and unexpected ways. Seth Curry has done well all season and sophomore Tyler Thornton is a known and reliable quantity: he's going to defend like hell, is a reliable three point shooter and a vocal leader.Â Rookie Austin Rivers is on the verge of stardom.Â Junior Andre Dawkins, whether starting or coming off the bench, is a guy who can rip off 12 points without thinking about it. And then there's Quinn Cook.
As recently as this summer's trip to China, his knee, injured during high school, was a serious concern.
In the first six games of the season, Cook played eight, 18, two, 12, eight, four and just one minute against Kansas.
His minutes began to pick up against Ohio State (14) where he played better, generally speaking, than did his team.
Since then, with the game against Washington where he played just four minutes as a significant exception, Cook has moved firmly into the rotation,Â averaging 16 mpg.Â Toss out Washington and it goes up to 18.
Moreover, he's growing rapidly and passing beautifully: he had a turnover against Presbyterian on November 12th, one against Tennessee on th 21st, two against Ohio State on November 29th, and two against Greensboro on December 19th.
That's it: four in November and two in December, six in 12 games.Â In the last two games he's had 17 assists.
Moreover, he's beginning to really demonstrate a feel for the game and shown that he can find people in their comfort zones.
It's not an entirely fair comparison but still interesting: UNC's Kendall Marshall has had 36 so far this season.
Marshall is averaging 10 apg and 2.4 turnovers. He's a brilliant and daring passer, but he's still averaging a turnover every 12 minutes.Â Cook is averaging a turnover every 25.
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