STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Conventional wisdom, not to mention the stat sheet, indicates that top scorer Dionte Christmas is the most important member of the Temple basketball team.

The numbers in the win-loss column point to someone else.

With sophomore forward Lavoy Allen back in the starting lineup, the Owls dramatically improved their defense in a 65-59 victory over Penn State last night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Allen, who missed one game and most of another - both losses - with a broken thumb, totaled 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists against the Nittany Lions (7-2).

"He is, I think without a doubt, our best basketball player, just in his understanding the whole concept of the game," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of Allen.

"He's a pretty good passer. He can step away and hit a jump shot. He had a great inside move today. And he's typically in the right spot defensively."

Temple is 4-3. Its defense was helped by having Allen and 7-footer Sergio Olmos in the starting lineup together for the first time this season.

Temple point guard Semaj Inge finished with a career-high 19 points and added six assists and four steals.