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Temple and Xavier, the two premier programs in the Atlantic 10 Conference, take center stage Saturday night in a 9:00 p.m. nationally-televised game (ESPN2) as part of ESPN's Rivalry Week. The Owls have won three of the last four A-10 Championships and own a record nine A10 titles. Xavier, on the other hand, has won outright or shared the regular season A10 title the last five seasons.
The Liacouras Center will host a "White Out" for the game with “I BELIEVE” t-shirts and rally towels being given out to fans on a first-come, first serve basis.
The Owls, under the direction of head coach Fran Dunphy, have been red-hot of late, and enter play riding a seven-game win streak. During this stretch, Temple has shot 194-377 (.515) from the field, led by the reigning A10 Player of the Week Ramone Moore. Moore, who leads the conference in scoring (18.3 ppg.), has averaged 21.1 points per game over the win streak. Junior guard Khalif Wyatt ranks second in the A10 in scoring (16.6 ppg.) and third in the league in steals (2.2 spg.). Senior guard Juan Fernandez (11.2 ppg.) rounds out the Owls three-guard attack that has averaged 46.1 ppg. while making 130 of 323 three-pointers (.402) as well as dishing 234 assists (10.2 apg.) on the season.
Temple's defense is much improved over the latest stretch with the return of 6-11 graduate center Micheal Eric (7.4 ppg., 7.0 rpg., 1.9 bpg.) to the lineup. The Owls are allowing just 62.1 points since Eric's return from a fractured right patella six games ago. Redshirt freshman Anthony Lee (5.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg.), who asked Dunphy to return Eric to the starting lineup for the Rhode Island game last Saturday, and junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (8.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg., .589 FG%), give the Owls' a trio of interior players as well.
Besides Lee, sophomore guard Aaron Brown (7.6 ppg.), redshirt junior T.J. DiLeo (2.6 ppg.) and freshman guard Will Cummings (1.7 ppg.) round out Temple's nine-man rotation.
Xavier, under the direction of head coach Chris Mack, has won three of its last four games to improve to 16-8 overall and 7-3 in league play, one-half game behind the first-place Owls. The Musketeers are led by the stellar guard tandem of senior Tu Holloway (16.3 ppg.) and junior Mark Lyons (15.9 ppg.). The two rank third and sixth in scoring in the league, while Holloway is also third in the A10 in assists (5.8 apg.). Senior 7-0 center Kenny Frease (8.9 ppg., 6.0 rpg.) gives XU a strong inside presence.
Temple leads the all-time series, 12-10, and the Owls are 6-3 against the Musketeers at the Liacouras Center.
Fans are also encouraged to come early as the Temple women (15-8, 8-1 A10), winners of eight-straight games, host UMass at 5:30 p.m. Temple will be celebrating Play 4Kay Day and all fans will be given pink pom-poms to show support in the fight against breast cancer.
A limited number of tickets are available for as low as $16 and may be purchased either at the Liacouras Center box office, online at www.owlstix.com or contacting the Temple Athletics Sales Office at (215) – 204-8499.