Three weeks ago I published a piece on why people should start feeling good about Temple‘s chances to make noise this season. The Owls responded to my bold proclamation by losing to a mediocre St. Joseph’s team on that very same day and getting pasted by 23 points on the road against an admittedly excellent Villanova team. The results didn’t necessarily prove that I was an idiot for hyping Temple, but it didn’t exactly make me feel good about going out on that limb either. Today I am feeling much better after watching the Owls absolutely drub a Kansas team by 25 points that entered the game with one of the most impressive non-conference resumes of anyone in the country. On the surface, the outcome was a huge surprise as a usually efficient Jayhawks’ offense was bogged down by turnovers and missed jump shots. But the Owls have quietly been sneaking up KenPom’s team ratings and have pushed themselves squarely into the conference title discussion with conference play right around the corner. Casual college basketball fans may view the Owls’ victory Monday night as a stunning upset and it was, but the college basketball fans who have been paying close attention this season likely knew the Owls had more than a puncher’s chance of taking down the mighty Jayhawks in Philadelphia and here is why.
1. Temple made more than half of their two-point baskets. It’s no secret that Fran Dunphy‘s club has been bricking shots at a frightening rate this season. Even after last night’s show, the team is still shooting just 42.9 percent on its two-point shots this season — good for 294th in the country and nearly five percentage points worse than the 47.6 percent that serves as the national average. Volume-scoring guards Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey have been primarily to blame for this unsightly mark. They use the majority of the team’s possessions and take most of the team’s shots as well, which is unfortunate, because both players are still shooting under 40 percent on two-point field goals for the season. Monday night was a different story however. The Owls made 21-of-28 two-pointers (75 percent) and both Cummings (3-of-5 from inside the arc) and DeCosey (6-of-7 from inside the arc) played under control and allowed other players on the roster to shoulder some of the offensive burden as well. DeCosey and Cummings are still the team’s best and most important offensive players but they have often tried to do too much offensively, especially against good teams. Last night they led the team in scoring again, but they also patiently looked for good shots and got to the free-throw consistently, which put a lot of pressure on the Jayhawks’ defense and the unit was obviously unable to respond. The bad news is that it will be virtually impossible for the Owls to shoot the ball like they did last night again this season. They are a better offensive team than they have shown, but they aren’t THAT good. That said, if Cummings and DeCosey can settle down offensively and other players can chip in, Temple will continue to see its shooting percentages rise to a more respectable rate.