Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams sitting on opposite
ends of the American Athletic Conference standings will square off on Sunday
afternoon, as the 15th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats head to the Liacouras Center
to tangle with the Temple Owls.
Cincinnati has surged up the national rankings in recent weeks thanks to an
11-game winning streak, which includes a perfect 7-0 start in the AAC. The
Bearcats continued their hot streak on Thursday night at home against UCF with
a dominant 69-51 victory to move to 18-2 overall. They've also been stellar on
the road, winning three of four.
Meanwhile, Temple has endured a disappointing campaign at just 5-12 overall
while going winless in league play in six tries. The Owls have lost nine of
their last 10 games, including a 90-66 setback at Connecticut on Tuesday
night, and they have not found much solace on their home floor either (1-4).
These new conference rivals haven't played since 2006, when Cincinnati claimed
an 80-71 decision to improve to 14-6 in the all-time series with the Owls.
The Bearcats made easy work of UCF in their most recent bout by shooting 47.2
percent from the field, while holding the Knights to a lowly 38.5 percent
shooting and in the process held an opponent to under 70 points for the 27th
straight game, the longest active streak in the nation. Sean Kilpatrick
connected on 6-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, on
his way to a game-high 19 points. Justin Jackson scored 12 points and made his
presence felt on the defensive end of the court with four steals and seven
blocks, while Jermaine Sanders came off the bench to net 10.
Cincinnati's elite defense has carried it this season, as it holds opponents
to just 38.3 percent shooting from the field, while ranking second nationally
in scoring defense (55.9 ppg). While its offensive attack hasn't always been
great (.425 FG percentage), its 70.8 ppg has been more than enough to support
it. Kilpatrick is the catalyst with 18.6 ppg while boasting an outstanding
free-throw percentage (.856). Jackson (11.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is one of the
nation's best defenders with 3.6 bpg and 1.6 spg, chipping in to the team's
outstanding +4.8 turnover margin.
Temple never stood a chance in its latest bout, as it got down to UConn by 14
at the half before finishing on the wrong end of the 24-point decision. It was
outshot from the field in the blowout, 53.4 percent to 38.3 percent, and lost
the rebounding battle by a hefty 45-25 margin. Will Cummings was impressive
despite the setback with 20 points. Anthony Lee added 14 points, and Quenton
DeCosey and Dalton Pepper poured in 12 points apiece.
Scoring points has rarely been a problem for the Owls this season, as they
shoot field goals at 44.4 percent efficiency for 75.1 ppg. Their problem has
come on the other end of the floor, where they yielding a lofty 76.2 ppg. They
are also hindered by a -4.2 rebounding margin and a lackluster .670 free-throw
percentage. Pepper has emerged as the go-to scorer with 17.0 ppg, doing so
with great percentages from the field (.476), 3-point range (.430) and the
foul line (.871). Cummings (16.4 ppg), DeCosey (16.1 ppg) and Lee (14.2 ppg,
9.3 rpg) are also in the midst of strong offensive campaigns.
The Sports Network