Two teams looking to start over after inconsistent non-league performances meet when Temple visits Rutgers on Wednesday in the American Athletic Conference opener for both. Temple beat a solid Alabama-Birmingham squad, but lost to 4-8 Texas Southern before scoring in triple figures for the first time since 2007 in its last game against LIU-Brooklyn. The Scarlet Knights won three of their first four, lost six of the next seven and come into their meeting with Temple off two straight victories.
Both teams have shown the ability to put up points, but are the bottom two in the league in scoring defense and in the bottom half in field goal percentage defense. Rutgers has played 11 of 13 games at home and won six, including victories over North Carolina-Greensboro and Army before Christmas. The Owls had had 11 days off, one more than Rutgers, and boast four players averaging at least 14 points.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT TEMPLE (5-5): Leading scorer Will Cummings told reporters the Owls “rode the wave” in their last game against LIU-Brooklyn, shooting 61.3 percent from the field and draining 15 from 3-point range. Cummings has put up 17.7 points per game and Dalton Pepper 17.2, after scoring 26 in the last outing to earn Big 5 co-Player of the Week honors. Quenton DeCosey averages 14.7 points while Anthony Lee chips in 14.4 points and a league-best 9.5 rebounds per game for the Owls - fourth in the AAC in scoring (79.9).
ABOUT RUTGERS (6-7): Myles Mack had his four-game streak of 20-point outings snapped, but hit the winning 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to beat Army on Dec. 22. Mack leads the team in scoring (16.5) while Kadeem Jack (14) and Pittsburgh transfer J.J. Moore (12.6) also average in double figures and Wally Judge chips in with 8.9 points and a team-best 7.2 rebounds. The Scarlet Knights will have to defend the 3-point line better after giving up 108 in the first 13 games – 20 more than anyone in the league.
1. Temple leads 32-18 in the all-time series, which resumes for the first time since the 2006-07.
2. Rutgers G Jerome Seagears leads the AAC in assist-turnover ratio (2.8).
3. Cummings, Pepper and DeCosey all average at least 34 minutes, residing in the top five of the AAC.
PREDICTION: Temple 76, Rutgers 70