Setting : 1776 N. Broad Street is the location for an Atlantic 10 showdown between Brian Gregory’s Dayton Flyers (18-8/ 7-5) and Fran Dunphy’s No. 18 Temple Owls (22-5/ 10-2).
Plot : Urgency is the theme for Dayton. At one time, the season held promise for the Flyers. Now, they find themselves in seventh place in the A 10 standings. Temple seeks to keep pace with Richmond for the regular season conference title. The Owls have won the past two A 10 crowns.
Sub-plot : Dayton’s eight losses have been by a combined total of 27 points. This includes losing their last two on the road by a total of five points. Dayton has not yet suffered a double-digit loss this season. The Flyers are 1-2 against ranked opponents.
Temple has won three in a row and five of their last six. The Owls have held all but two of their opponents under their season scoring average. Sixteen of those opponents have scored 10 or more fewer points than usual. Temple posts a similar record against ranked opponents of a win and two setbacks.
The A 10 has 18 victories over BCS schools. Nine different teams have posted non-conference triumphs over the BCS conferences. Temple leads the way with four victories. Richmond, Rhode Island, and Xavier each have three.
Flashback : Dionte Christmas and Ryan Brooks tallied 20 a piece, but the Owls came up short at UD Arena last season. Chris Wright matched Christmas and Brooks with 20. London Warren grabbed nine boards and dished out eight assists as the Flyers took 70-65 decision.
Temple leads the all-time series 14-11, but the Flyers have taken the last three in the series.
Temple has made 27 appearances in the NCAA tournament including Elite Eight spots in ‘01, ‘99, ‘93, ‘91, and ‘88. Dayton has earned 14 invites to The Dance, including a spot in the 1967 title game where they fell to John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins 79-64. Dayton beat West Virginia in last year’s opening round, 68-60.
Foreshadowing : Thirty-three former Owls have played in the Association. Mardy Collins is the lone Temple alum in the league. Sixteen from the Marianist college have gone on to enjoy careers in the NBA including Jim Paxson Jr. and Johnny Davis.
Conflict : Call it psychedelia, tonight’s game will be played in the '60s. Dayton averages a touch above 70, but, as pointed out above, Temple trims their opponents’ totals. The Owls enter the action at 66 a contest.
Surprisingly, the Flyers fell victim to foul troubles in their two-point loss at Duquesne. Ten Flyers play at least 10 minutes. Usually, they can avoid foul problems. Nonetheless, Chris Wright spent significant time on the bench with four fouls, and London Warren fouled out at 1:19 mark with Dayton in the lead.
How will this affect the usually aggressive Flyers?
How will the Owl defense respond? Temple was exposed earlier this year against Kansas. The Owls got out and defended beyond the arc while fronting the post. Kansas exploited an advantage in athleticism for a big win. Temple matches up with Dayton athletically, but will the Flyers take a page from the Kansas playbook?
The Flyers frequently run a double high screen on the ball. Opponents struggle to defend this. If Temple tries to apply pressure on the ball 25 feet from the basket, the Flyers could capitalize on an open area in the lane.
Chris Johnson is the key to Dayton’s success. The sophomore guard hits nearly 37 percent from behind the three-point arc. He is unafraid to shoot. He can create his own shot off the dribble. Dayton will need Johnson to open up the middle.
From there Wright has to takeover. The preseason Wooden candidate scores 14 and half points and grabs seven rebounds in 28 minutes of playing time. Wright scored Dayton’s first 11 points against Duquesne. he is capable of dominating, but he has not shown that he can do it for long stretches.
Marcus Johnson chips in eight points and three rebounds. Rob Lowery share point guard duties with Warren. The senior scores almost seven a game and hands out nearly four assists.
Paul Williams is valuable off the bench. The sophomore has hit 23 threes this season.
Ryan Brooks leads three Owls in double figures with nearly 15 a game. The senior guard hands out almost two assists to every turnover.
Off the bench, Juan Fernandez hits 43.7 percent of his trifecta attempts. Fernandez hit seven of nine when Temple beat Villanova earlier this year.
Lavoy Allen averages a double-double (11.4ppg and 10.3 rpg).
Ramone Moore, Michael Eric, and Luiz Guzman round out the starting five combining for 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Resolution : The time is now for Dayton. They need to put their losses behind and notch a win over a ranked opponent. Temple will not go down easy. Wright and Johnson will combine for over 30 points as the Flyers win a low-scoring affair.