Temple Owls face key road test Tuesday at Missouri

Matt Leon
November 26, 2018 - 4:31 pm
Nov 20, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Temple Owls center Ernest Aflakpu (24) reacts with teammates in the first half of the Legends Classic against the California Golden Bears at Barclays Center.

Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Temple Owls will play their first true road game of the season on Tuesday night as they head out to Columbia to visit the University of Missouri.

The Owls have gotten off to a strong 5-1 start this season. They won their first four games, all at The Liacouras Center, and then split two games in Brooklyn at the Legends Classic, losing to Virginia Commonwealth University before beating the California Golden Bears.

"In each game, we've had stretches of that game that have been pretty good basketball," Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said. "We've defended it fairly well, and I think we've run good offense and been efficient with our offensive play. Now we have to sustain it and we have to get more consistent at both ends of the court."

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. is Temple's leading scorer through six games, pouring in 17.8 points per game. He exploded for 30 points in a Nov. 9 win over the Detroit Mercy Titans and put together a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists last time out in that win over Cal.

"He's done a really good job," Dunphy said. "He's been a very good leader. First of all, he's a wonderful young man, so that's been great to have the opportunity to coach him. But he's now making critical shots I think at very important times for us, and that has gotten us over the hump in a number of the games we've played so far."

Temple will take on a Missouri team that is 3-2 and just back from a 2-1 performance at the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands. The Tigers advanced to the title game at the Paradise Jam, where they fell to Kansas State on Nov. 19, 82-67.

"Their guards (junior Dru) Smith and (senior Jordan) Geist are probably their two leading scorers and two guys that can step up and make threes and really do a good job of being as efficient on the offensive end as they can be," Dunphy added. "And they do a good job of pushing the basketball."

Geist leads the Tigers in scoring 12.8 points per game while Smith is second, pouring in 11.6 points per night. Smith is shooting 50 percent from three in the early going this season.

These two teams haven't met since the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, when Temple beat Mizzou 75-61.

Tuesday night's game gets underway at 9 p.m.

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