Sunday, December 30, 2012

Falcons Head to Philly to Face Temple

The Falcons flew from North Dakota directly to Philadelphia, where they were a New Year's tilt against the Temple Owls in what figures to be a tough challenge.  Of course, you know that last year BG beat Temple in what is probably the biggest win for the men's program in the new facility.  The return game, on Temple's floor, could be a different story.

The last time BG played Temple in Philly it was at their OLD arena (not played in for a decade) in a "Turn back the clock" game the Owls won by 24.  BG has never played in the Liacouras Center, their new facility.

Temple is currently 9-2, with a #65 ranking on and an RPI of 29.  In the last game they played, they beat Syracuse on the MSG floor.  (Their scheduled game against Detroit was cancelled due to snow).  Their only losses have been to Duke and a good Canisius team.  They beat Kent by 14 at Kent and they beat Buffalo by 15 at Buffalo.

One note--their next game is against Kansas, so they could have their minds looking ahead....maybe.

They play at 68 possessions per game, which is average for D1 and a little higher than where BG has been playing (65).

Temple is scoring 1.05 points per possession, which is in the top third of the D1 rankings.  They don't get there by shooting well.  Their effective FG% is 48.5%, which is in the bottom third of the country, though still 4% better than BG.  One key for them is that they take care of the ball.  They are averaging only 11 turnovers a game, so, even though they make fewer shots, they have more possessions to work with.

They are only average in offensive rebounding and they are just average in getting to the line but they are a strong free throw shooting team.  They are not a great 3-FG shooting team (30%), but they do shoot a lot of them.

Defensively, they are holding opponents to .95 points per possession, which is above average but hardly represents lock down D.  (They did hold Buffalo under 40).  They allow an effective field goal% of 46.9% which is almost exactly what they shoot themselves.  Their defensive rebounding and turnovers are also pretty much at the national average and they do a pretty respectable if not great job of keeping teams off the line.

Two notes.  First, obviously, these numbers have been generated against a pretty tough schedule.  Second, if this team appears to be a team without a very strong area, it is also a team without a very strong weakness.  This teams seems to do everything well and if they get the 3-ball falling, they could be very tough.

Their marquee player is Khalif Wyatt.  He's scoring 16 points a game, though he is shooting 38% overall and 25% from beyond the arc.  (His offensive rating is only 104.5, FWIW).  He also leads the team with nearly 4 assists per game and has 2.5 TOs.  At 6'4", he could be a matchup issue for BG as well.

The second leading scorer is Scootie Randall.  He's 6'7" and scores 13 points a game to go with 7 rebounds a game. He doesn't shoot well either, however, (36% overall and 26% on a team-leading 77 treys).

Anthony Lee is 6'9" and scores 11.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds and he is shooting 56%.  He has produced those numbers in only 23 minutes per game.

Rahir Hollis-Jefferson is 6'6" and scores 9 ppg to go with 5.6 rebounds.

Obviously, this is a very good basketball team, possibly a Sweet 16 caliber squad.  (They were a #5 seed last year before losing to South Florida in the opener and they have made the tournament for 5 straight years.)  It seems like there is one opening, which is for BG to guard the shot really well and keep the number of possessions small and then they'll need someone to show up and score, along the lines of what Orr did in the MSU game.

Temple is big and long.  I believe you can be certain they are going to surround Calhoun at every opportunity with big guys with long arms.  For the same reason, they present matchup problems on the other end and I wonder if BG doesn't go zone in this game.

The other possibility will be to have one of those random, unconscious shooting nights.

Anyway, New Year's Eve in Philly presents BG with a very big challenge, but based on their last 3 games, they seem to play better against the really good teams than they do against teams they should beat.

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