Temple ready to try its luck on the three-point wheel against KU


Temple's Khalif Wyatt looks to shoot after driving past Syracuse's Brandon Triche, right, during the first half of  the Gotham Classic tournament at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in New York. Temple defeated Syracuse, 83-79.

Temple's Khalif Wyatt looks to shoot after driving past Syracuse's Brandon Triche, right, during the first half of the Gotham Classic tournament at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in New York. Temple defeated Syracuse, 83-79.

Team: Temple
Record: 10-2
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 64

3 Strengths

Ball security: Temple rarely turns it over, giving it away on just 16.6 percent of its possessions (18th nationally). The Owls also don't have it stolen often, as only 8.2 percent of their offensive possessions end with steals (40th nationally). Temple, which plays an above-average pace, turns it over just 11.3 times per game and hasn't turned it over more than 15 times since its season-opener on Nov. 13 against Kent State.

Three-point defense: Temple has done a good job of limiting opponent three-point shots this season, as only 29.3 percent of opposing team's shots have been three-pointers (67th-lowest split nationally). Opponents haven't done much with those limited three-point tries either, making just 30.8 percent of their treys against the Owls (73rd nationally). Add it all up, and only 23.7 percent of opponents' points have come via the three-pointer (68th-lowest split nationally).

Creating steals: Temple comes away with steals on 12.7 percent of its defensive possessions, which ranks 38th nationally. Six-foot-2 sophomore Will Cummings is the team's best thief, grabbing steals on 5.1 percent of opponents' possessions (26th nationally). Somewhat interestingly, Temple has a high steal number but only an average defensive turnover number, as the Owls force turnovers on 21.3 percent of their opponents' possessions (146th nationally).

3 Weaknesses

Three-point shooting: For a team that takes a lot of three-pointers (37.7 percent of Temple's shots are threes; 76th nationally), Temple sure doesn't make many of them. The Owls have made just 31 percent of their treys this year, which ranks 256th nationally and is 2.5 percent below the NCAA average. It hasn't helped that the team's most frequent three-point shooters — starting guards Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall — are both shooting worse than 26 percent from three this year.

Rebounding: Playing a slightly above-average schedule, Temple has not been a particularly good rebounding team on either end. The Owls grab 32.6 percent of their offensive misses (151st nationally) and 68.7 percent of opponents' missed shots (148th nationally). The Owls aren't very tall in the post, ranking 246th in KenPom's "effective height" measure, which calculates height for the team's top two players in the game. Temple also can't afford foul trouble from the sometimes-whistle-prone Anthony Lee, as the 6-foot-9 forward has been spectacular on the defensive glass this season (17th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage).

Interior defense: Temple has done a nice job of limiting threes, but that hasn't helped too much because teams have been successful inside. Opponents have made 46.4 percent of their twos this year (156th nationally) with 57.6 percent of the points scored against Temple coming from two-point baskets (38th-highest split nationally).

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-4 guard Khalif Wyatt (No. 1) shoulders most of the offensive load for Temple. The senior puts up 27.2 percent of his team's shots when he's in (242nd nationally) while also maintaining a high assist rate (130th nationally). Wyatt's best skill is getting to the free throw line, as he draws 5.7 fouls per game (153rd nationally) while boasting 83.6-percent accuracy from the stripe. In Temple's upset of Syracuse, Wyatt scored 33 points, which included 15-for-15 accuracy from the free throw line. As mentioned before, he's struggled from three-point range, making only 17 of 68 (25 percent) after shooting 38 percent and 42 percent from three the last two seasons. Wyatt comes in cold as well, having made just three of his last 20 treys in his last three games (15 percent).

Six-foot-9 forward Anthony Lee (No. 3) is Temple's best scoring threat inside. The sophomore has made 47 of 83 twos (56.6 percent) while also drawing 5.3 fouls per game (234th nationally). One of Lee's best skills is his ability to avoid turnovers; his turnover rate ranks 73rd in the country, as he has just 10 turnovers in 261 minutes this year. Lee also is an elite defensive rebounder (26.8 percent defensive rebound percentage) and a decent shot-blocker (4.2 percent, 291st nationally). As mentioned above, Lee sometimes is prone to getting whistles, as he averages a team-high 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes.

Six-foot-9 forward Jake O'Brien (No. 22) could present some problems for KU off the bench as he appears to be a prototypical "stretch 4." O'Brien has come in firing, as he puts up 25 percent of Temple's shots when he's in the game. What makes him dangerous is his outside shooting; the senior has made 20 of 45 three-pointers this year, and his 44.4-percent three-point accuracy is tied for the best on the team. O'Brien rarely turns it over (120th-best turnover rate) and also can be a shot-blocker, rejecting 3.3 percent of opponents' twos. Stretch 4s have created some matchup problems in the past for KU, so be sure to pay attention to who's guarding No. 22 on the perimeter when he checks into the game.


Here's the scary part about this game for KU: Temple is a team that shoots a lot of threes with players that haven't shot well this season but have made treys in past years. A one-game correction is entirely possible.

So, here's the non-scary part for KU: Another team will come into the Fieldhouse hoping to try its luck on the three-point wheel, and it certainly didn't work for teams of similar ability like Belmont and Richmond.

Once again, the three-point shot creates a wide range of potential outcomes, making this a tough game to predict. A Temple win is unlikely but possible. A 40-point Temple loss on a poor shooting day is possible as well.

My hunch is that Wyatt will have a good game and also will put pressure on KU's perimeter defense — an area that hasn't always been strong this season. If Wyatt plays well — and other guys like Scootie Randall and O'Brien can knock down some shots — then Temple should stay competitive for most of the game.

I'll still take a double-digit win for KU, which has been playing at an unbelievable level over its last five games.

This one will probably be closer than the last few in the Fieldhouse, though.

Kansas 82, Temple 72

Hawk to Rock

Facing a team that doesn't rebound well and that allows a high number of shots inside makes me think that Kevin Young could be in line for a big game. The senior ranks in the top 100 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and only shoots the close ones, making 27 of his 41 two-pointers this year (65.9 percent). Young shouldn't be overmatched or undersized against Temple's front line, so mark me down for a double-digit rebounding performance from him.

Predictions tally
11-1 record, 170 points off (14.2 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Average: 4th in ratings


mejayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, Jesse, for the breakdown. Btw, has anyone on the staff mentioned Jeff W's blocks-to-fouls ratio? Gotta be a record/column there, huh?

Jesse Newell 5 years, 3 months ago

Gary did about a month ago in this story:

Here are the updated blocks-to-fouls national leaders. Withey still comfortably ahead:

jaybate 5 years, 3 months ago

Here is what I keep worrying about.

Temple has shot poorly from trey, but Fran has kept them shooting a ton of treys.

This suggests that the team has been in a deep shooting slump.

This suggests Fran thinks they will come out of it sooner or later.

Its about time for them to come out of it, if they are going to.

At the same time, KU is due for a below average trey day.

Since their perimeter is as long and athletic and good defensively as ours, then we will have to win the game through scoring inside in a slug fest; this is not our forte so far.

If the shooting scenario I describe above were to play out, then the game would likely come down to KU needing 15-20 from Perry; i.e., Perry's first big time game.

I love games like this.

Coaches probably hate them.

This game could very easily get out of either coaches control.

Still, we are as good or better at so many positions and our bench seems stronger, so I've got to say Self will find a way around the bad shooting, go inside, and grind one out.

These kinds of games wind up ten point games, because of fouls shooting at the end, not because they weren't close for much of the game.

Tim Orel 5 years, 3 months ago

It would be nice on columns like this to have comments about how KU is doing compared to the opponent in the particular categories. For example, after saying Temple is 18th best at turnovers, point out how KU's opponents are 43rd best (or whatever) in KU's games. I don't know if that's difficult to collect, but I'm impressed with the stats that are presented. I just was a bit lost as to how KU measures up when reading those points.

Jesse Newell 5 years, 3 months ago

Good suggestion, and that might be a good focus for another blog just looking at KU's strengths/weaknesses.

A short version would be this:

KU is extremely poor at: limiting opponents' three-pointers.

KU is average/not great at: offensive rebounding, getting to the free throw line and forcing turnovers on defense.

KU is great at: avoiding fouls, avoiding turnovers on offense, defensive rebounding and shooting threes.

KU is elite at: two-point shooting, two-point defense, blocking shots on defense.

jaycon11 5 years, 3 months ago

i anticipate that releford will guard wyatt and shut him down, but will draw fouls. it's on releford's replacement as defender to keep wyatt from getting hot. as long as other owls are forced to pick up the shooting slack, ku should be in command.

young should keep o'brien from scoring a ton of points on the perimeter.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 3 months ago

"Stretch 4s have created some matchup problems in the past for KU".

Does "in the past" refer to last year, or previous games this year? I'm not recalling it being a problem this year.Last year it was problem because TRob wasn't effective chasing the Robbie Hummel stretch 4's all over the court, and neither was Withey. This meant that our best interior defender (Withey) came out of the game.

With the continued development of Withey & Young (fully capable of chasing most anyone anywhere), I don't see the stretch 4 being a problem this year though I admittedly don't have any particular research to back this up.

Jesse Newell 5 years, 3 months ago

dagger — Very good point about this year's team compared to last. I agree last year's team was more affected by a stretch 4. Earlier this season, though, Self said to reporters that a stretch 4 is the toughest type of player to guard. It might not create as many bad matchups on this year's team (especially if Young plays well), but it still could alter KU's lineup/defensive principles, etc.

pizzashuttle 5 years, 3 months ago

Jesse, another great read and excellent statistical analysis.

I went to ESPN's statistics for Temple and can't tell which player is their pg. My guess is that Cummings and DiLeo split time at pg.

Wyatt's 6'4" and their top scorer so Releford either guards him or helps out a lot to guard him. Jesse said Wyatt's shooting 25% from 3 and he was 15 of 15 from the ft line against 'Cuse. His game is driving to the basket to either the score or to draw the foul. This will be a tough defensive assignment. I'd rather not see Ben guard him as it could cause Ben to get in foul trouble early and have to ride the bench. If I was Temple then early in the game I'd constantly have Wyatt driving against Ben to try and get Ben in foul trouble early.

Scootie is their 2nd leading scorer at 6'6" -225 and gets 7.4 rpg so maybe he plays at pf and Young will guard him. Scootie at 6'6" is shorter then Young but he outweighs him by 25 lbs. I expect him to try to push Young around under the basket, nothing new to Young. Scootie and Wyatt are both sr's so playing in the AFH shouldn't shake their confidence as much as it does with fr and soph.

Lee is their 3rd leading scorer and at 6'9" should have trouble scoring over Withey. Lee isn't prone to foul trouble and is averaging 2.8 pfpg so I don't see him in foul trouble early. Lee's a soph but performed well against Syracuse scoring 21 and going 11 of 14 from the ft line. Temple will feed him the ball on offense. Lee will be a good challenge for Withey.

Hollis-Jefferson is their 4th leading scorer and also is 6'6" - 215. He hasn't shot any 3s this season so maybe he plays at pf. HJ is averaging 5.4 rpg so about 2 less than Scootie. If HJ plays at pf then it's a better defensive matchup for Young because HJ doesn't weigh as much as Scootie. It won't be as easy for HJ to push Young around under the basket. HJ is a sr so this is a team with plenty of upperclassmen starting.

Jesse makes a good point about O'Brien being their best 3 pt shooter. If he subs in off the bench maybe Self will sub in Ellis to match up against him since they both have an inside outside game. O'Brien's also a sr so this could be a tough match up for Ellis but also a good way to measure his defensive progress.

JayhawkPiller82 5 years, 3 months ago

Jesse: When does your pre-game live updates start? I can't wait for the start of THIS game, RCJH.

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