Fran Dunphy and Pat Kennedy arrived at the Liacouras Center last evening with 777 wins and 555 losses between them. Dunphy has never left town in his head-coaching career, just crossing the Schuylkill in 2006. Kennedy had been in New York (Iona) Florida (Florida State), Illinois (De Paul), Montana (Montana) and Maryland (Towson).
Kennedy could have used Sam Cassell or Bobby Sura. He did have Durant, but it was Tony, not his brother Kevin, playing for Towson. He also had a dead ringer for Randy Moss in transfer Junior Hairston, who last played at the College of Charleston, a bad name on North Broad Street these days.
No worries this time. The coaching wins and losses may have been symmetrical. There was no symmetry in this game. The Owls never trailed Towson, led by 15 at the half and won it, 69-46.
Temple (4-4) shot 51.1 percent. Towson (3-5) shot 23.2 percent, making 13 shots and missing 43. Get numbers like that, you get blowouts.
Temple's big two of Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale combined for 28 points and 25 rebounds. Freshman post Lavoy Allen is as understated as he is effective. He missed just one shot while scoring 14 points.
If there are two differences between these Owls and Dunphy's first Temple team, it is Allen's presence and improved team defense.
"I love Lavoy," Tyndale said. "He's one of the best people that I ever met. He's a very humble kid. He worked very hard. He listened. He's always in the gym."
Dunphy knew Allen had game and said, "he just came to us as a well-coached, pretty skilled guy . . . It's a pleasure to coach him. He's got a great attitude and a great way about him. We just have a pretty talented guy on our hands."
Allen knew there would be differences from high school, where he starred at Pennsbury in Bucks County.
"The biggest adjustments were getting stronger, getting more physical, playing against bigger guys," he said. "They were my height and got like 20-30 pounds on me."
Temple shot 18-for-30 from inside the arc. The only bad number was the 17 turnovers, nine by point guards Luis Guzman (five) and Chris Clark (four), many against Towson's 1-3-1 trap. With Villanova's relentless defenders on tap for Sunday at the Liacouras Center, that won't do.
There was minimal excitement in the building for the crowd of 4,036. There was that long pass to Hairston where he was led right into the basket support, instead of getting a touchdown. And a flying Tyndale baseline dunk that left him sprawled on the court with his coach urging him to get back on defense.
"I didn't even know the dunk went in," Tyndale said. "I was just a little off-balance. I tried my best to run down the end to play some defense. Good thing it was the media timeout. I was a little exhausted at the time."
Towson's point total proved the John Chaney era lives on. Temple has won 66 straight when it has held its opponent to fewer than 50.
"We've been working very hard [on defense] at practice," Tyndale said. "I thought we played a good team defensive game."
Dunphy wanted to look at the tape before he decided whether his team play good defense or Towson just missed shots. He also wondered why big men Allen and Sergio Olmos had "as many defensive rebounds as I did."
That 50-point thing will not be in play Sunday.
"It's an important game," Dunphy said. "Obviously, you're playing one of the best teams in the country, a terrific basketball program, good talent, good coaching. They have everything that they need. It's a great opportunity for us . . . We're going to have to play our best basketball game."
The last Big 5 team to beat Villanova was Temple, 53-52, on Dec. 4, 2004, at the Palestra. Tyndale had 11 points that night. He'll need more Sunday.
The Owls are .500 for the first time this season. Staying there won't be easy as Villanova goes for a record 13th consecutive City Series victory. *