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The #18/20 Temple men's basketball team has accomplished so many things during the course of its stellar 2009-10 campaign. The Owls (23-5, 11-2 A-10) have cracked the Top 25 for the first time since 2001, defeated a Top 5 team for the first time since 2000 and posted the most wins since 2001. A win Sunday at La Salle (2:00 p.m./OwlAccess) would give the program just its fifth 4-0 Big 5 campaign, and its first since 1987-88.
The Owls, under the stewardship of head coach Fran Dunphy
, have already clinched a share of their 26th city-series title. A 4-0 season would place this team among the elite squads in Cherry and White lore. Besides the '87-88 squad, which boasted a 32-2 record and a final regular season #1 ranking, the other TU teams to go 4-0 in Big 5 play were the 1986-87 team, which tied for the most wins in a season (32-4), and the two NCAA Final Four teams: 1957-58 (27-3) and 1955-56 (27-4).
Temple enters Sunday's game having won four straight and is tied with Xavier and Richmond for first in the A-10 standings. Defense has led the way throughout the season and it was in evidence Wednesday when the Owls held preseason A-10 favorite Dayton to its lowest scoring output since 1997 in a 49-41 win. It marked the eighth time TU has held an opponent to more then 20 points below their scoring average.
Senior guard Ryan Brooks
continues to pace the Owls with a 14.8 scoring average while sophomore guard Ramone Moore
(7.9 ppg.) has led the team in scoring in six of the last seven games. Sophomore guard Juan Fernandez
, who leads the A-10 in three-point percentage (54-124, .435), averages 11.9 points and a team-high 3.6 assists while junior forward Lavoy Allen
(11.3 ppg., 10.5 rpg.) is one of three conference players averaging a double-double.
No team has been decimated more by injuries than La Salle, which has lost three senior starters for the remainder of the season. The Explorers (11-16, 3-10), under the direction of head coach Dr. John Giannini, will be looking to snap a seven-game losing streak that started with the team's loss to Temple, 64-52, on Jan. 30.
The lone remaining senior starter, Rodney Green, leads LSU and ranks second in the A-10 with a 19.3 scoring average. Freshman center Aaric Murray (12.5 ppg., 6.7 rpg.) has been a bright spot for the Explorers while junior forward Jerrell Williams (9.8 ppg.) leads the squad in rebounding (7.3 rpg.).
Temple leads the series, 65-40, and is 10-3 in games played at La Salle.