Cincinnati ready to shake off rust vs. Temple

NCAA Men's Basketball

Playing with a heavy heart following the death of legendary former coach John Chaney, the Temple Owls struggled with shot selection and defensive execution last Friday in an 81-64 defeat against Tulane.

The Owls (4-5, 3-5 American Athletic) held a tribute to Chaney pregame, and then went out and shot 39.7 percent from the field and made only 2-of-14 3s in the second half. They also allowed the Green Wave to shoot 50 percent for the game.

“I figured if we calmed down and made a few shots, we would get the score close and we wouldn’t have to go into scramble mode,” Temple coach Aaron McKie said. “But we dug that hole for ourselves and we couldn’t get out of it.”

The Owls will try to bounce back quickly on Thursday night when they host a Cincinnati Bearcats squad that has not been able to play a game since Jan. 10 due to COVID-19 cases within their program.

Before the shutdown, which included six postponements, the Bearcats (3-7, 1-4) lost six of seven games, with their most recent being an 82-76 defeat at Wichita State. Zach Harvey finished with 19 points in that game on 7-for-10 shooting.

But the game feels so long ago for the Bearcats, who have spent most of the shutdown without even being able to conduct a full team workout.

“We’re getting through it, I hope to be through it soon in terms of player availability, but our guys’ health is the most important thing,” Cincinnati coach John Brannen said on his local radio show recently. “I told our walk-ons that everybody is going to be available right now because once we have the amount of players available to play games, we’ll certainly do it.”

Guards Keith Williams and Jeremiah Davenport lead Cincinnati averaging 15.0 and 10.1 points per game, respectively, but the Bearcats have struggled from long distance shooting 28.2 percent from 3-point range. David DeJulius sets the pace of Cincinnati’s offense with 8.6 points and 5.3 assists per game.

Guard Damian Dunn leads Temple with 14.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, and forward Jake Forrester has been a big presence inside with 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game when he’s been able to stay out of foul trouble, which hasn’t been often of late.

Jeremiah Williams has been impressive in a point guard role and is averaging 7.6 points and 5.0 assists per game.

–Field Level Media

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