Temple ready to try its luck on the three-point wheel against KU
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 64
• 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).
• 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.
11-1 record, 170 points off (14.2 points off/game)
Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com 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 KUsports.com ratings