After a thrilling comeback win over Wichita State, Memphis hits the road looking to stave off the threat of the NCAA Tournament bubble with a matchup against Temple (6 p.m., ESPN2). A loss to the Owls, who possess the worst conference record in the AAC with just one win, would put the nail in the coffin for the Tigers’ hopes of an at-large tournament bid.
If Memphis hopes to not sweat it out on Selection Sunday, taking care of business against AAC basement dwellers is key. With the difficult part of their conference schedule looming, what can Memphis expect from Temple in what could be a potential trap game?
Temple Scouting Report
The Temple Owls (8-14, 1-8) come into their game against Memphis on a seven-game losing streak. Adam Fisher is in his first year leading the charge for the Owls. He comes over from Penn State where he was the Associate Head Coach for two seasons. The Owls lost their top four leading scorers from a season ago to the transfer portal. All four moved up to the Power 5 conference level. They also lost key contributor Nick Jourdain, who stayed in the AAC and now plays for Memphis.
Per KenPom, the Owls are the 243rd-best team in the nation. They possess the 273rd-best Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and 191st-best Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. They are the 248th-best team in the country according to the NCAA NET Rankings, a mark which puts them above just one AAC team (UTSA).
Temple is one of the worst shooting teams in the country. They shoot 37.8% from the floor as a team and an abysmal 29.8% from beyond the arc. The team’s three leading scorers have struggled to get it going from distance this season.
The Owls’ leading scorer is junior Hysier Miller, who averages 15.9 PPG and has nearly doubled his scoring production from his sophomore campaign. Miller entered the transfer portal this off-season before deciding to take his name out and return to Temple. The 6’1 guard and local talent shoots just 34% from the floor and 25.3% from three. Regardless, he is a talented player with range on his jumpshot and the ability to go off for scoring outbursts.
Jordan Riley is the second leading scorer on this Temple team, averaging 12.6 PPG. The junior guard is inefficient as well, shooting 43.4% from the floor and 29.8% from beyond the arc. The Georgetown transfer is a good athlete and defender with nice potential as a two-way player. Riley has been performing well as of late, scoring 20+ in each of his last two games.
Jahlil White is another player who has struggled with his efficiency from the floor this season. The 6’7 junior wing shoots a solid 44.1% from the floor but only 10% from three-point distance. White, however, is a good defender and a good rebounder. He leads the Owls on the glass at 6.7 rebounds per game.
The Owls only play two true frontcourt players in senior Sam Hofman and junior Steve Settle III.
Settle, a 6’10 forward, was a talented pick up out of the transfer portal for head coach Adam Fisher this off-season, coming over from Howard. The junior is a versatile big man with the ability to put the ball on the deck and finisher through traffic on the interior. Settle, who averages 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, is very mobile for his size, using his athleticism on both ends. He can also stretch the floor, making 21 attempts from beyond the arc this season.
Sam Hofman is a 6’5, 280 pound forward who plays bigger than his size. The senior has started all 22 games for the Owls this season. He is averaging 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Hofman can stretch the floor, shooting 35.6% from three on almost five attempts per game, and really hustles when he is on the court.
Lack of Depth
Temple doesn’t have much depth to work with, only playing eight players consistently in their rotation.
Shane Dezonie and Quante Berry are former highly rated recruits who transferred in from Power 6 programs. Dezonie is a junior who started his career at Vanderbilt. He now averages 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Owls in his second season with the team. At 6’4, he is an athletic guard who attacks the glass. Berry redshirted his freshman season at Providence before transferring in. He is a lanky combo-guard with shot-making talent and solid playmaking ability. He averages 2.8 points per game.
Matteo Picarelli is the best and most consistent shooter on the Temple roster. The 6’2 senior guard averages 8.5 points per game while connecting on 36.2% of his threes this season. Picarelli has connected on 46 attempts from beyond the arc this season, while getting up 5.8 threes per contest. He is one Memphis will have to key in on on the perimeter.
Memphis finds themselves in a favorable matchup against a team that struggles to shoot from the perimeter. With their struggles defending the three-point line in recent weeks, the Tigers should find solace in the fact that Temple is one of the worst shooting teams in the nation.
Memphis will have to overcome what projects to be a solid home environment for Temple in one of their biggest games of the season. The Tigers should be able to pack the paint against the Owls, while taking advantage of their lack of perimeter size offensively. If they are able to hit shots on the road, Memphis should have no trouble running away from a Temple team that shouldn’t be able to keep up with them offensively.
Despite their impressive comeback against Wichita State last Saturday, Memphis still performed poorly. They haven’t shown enough consistent signs to show they’ve overcome their offensive drought. While I expect Memphis to win because of a pure talent advantage, don’t be surprised if Memphis’ recent poor play and the road environment makes this much closer than many expect.
Final Score: Memphis 75, Temple 67