The UConn men’s basketball team will look to extend its win streak to four games on Thursday when they take on Temple. Last time the Huskies faced the Owls, Josh Brown made a game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left to win 55-53.
Temple is playing well of late as well, winning six of its last seven games.
I talked with Michael Guise, the Sports Editor at Temple’s student newspaper about the Owls and the upcoming matchup.
Zampini: What do you remember most from the first meeting between UConn and Temple?
Guise: What I remember most is how Temple rebounded from its worst performance of the season---a 27-point defeat on Jan. 2 to Houston. With the win against the Huskies, the Owls defeated their second ranked opponent in about a week. Fran Dunphy changed his starting lineup and his team responded. Senior guard Devin Coleman gave the Owls a spark off the bench, and Josh Brown tallied the game winner with three seconds left.
Zampini: Temple is 14-8 this year. Has anything surprised you from this Temple team this season?
Guise: I have been surprised with how inconsistent the Owls have been at certain points this season. Before falling to Houston, the Owls defeated Cincinnati, winning their first game against a ranked opponent this season. The team won two in a row and then coughed up a double-digit lead in the second half to Memphis on Jan. 13, losing to the Tigers. The team won three straight games, including a win against previously undefeated Southern Methodist. They then lost at East Carolina, who had one conference win coming into the game. Despite all that, the team has seemed to have found its footing lately.
Zampini: Quenton DeCosey leads Temple and is second in the AAC in scoring with 16.5 points per game. How good is he and do you see him playing at the next level?
Guise: Quenton DeCosey is Temple's best player and one of the top players in the conference. He can score the ball in multiple ways, including using his pump fake to draw fouls. In the games where DeCosey has totaled 15 or more points, the Owls are 11-1. Beside that statistic, his impact can be seen in the Owls' comeback victory against Tulsa, where he scored 21 points in the second half and overtime in the team's comeback victory. I do not know how his game translates to the NBA, but he has a future playing professional basketball somewhere.
Zampini: Temple, currently in second in the conference standings, still has a few tough games left on its schedule, what chance do you give them to win the regular season title?
Guise: I think the team is playing its best basketball of the season right now. Teams always say they want to play their best as the calendar turns to February/March, and that is what Temple is doing. Temple is currently in second place, one game ahead of the Huskies. Fran Dunphy's squad also owns a tiebreaker over Southern Methodist, which could be a crucial factor in deciding a regular season-champion. But Thursday's game will provide a clear picture as to who is No. 2 in the conference.
Zampini: Temple has won six of its last seven games, what has worked so well for the Owls during that stretch?
Guise: Temple has guarded very well since the start of the new year, which gels well with the fact the Owls protect the ball on the offensive end. Temple is No. 3 in Division I in fewest turnovers per game. They haven't been hurting themselves, which goes a long way. Temple forces its opponents to make sound decisions.
Zampini: What is your prediction for this game?
Guise: It will be a great game to cover. So many angles. Temple has lost twice in nine home games this season. The Liacouras Center will be in a "white out" and the fans are expected to show up. Against two evenly matched teams, home court is a tiebreak. Both teams are playing good basketball, but I predict Temple will win on Thursday.