St. Joseph's DeAndre' Bembry is scoring less and coach Phil Martelli couldn't be happier.
Last season, Bembry averaged 17.7 points on a Hawks team that went 13-18. Now, playing on a squad with more depth, the junior forward is averaging 15.8 points but continuing to display arguably the top all-around skill-set in the city.
Bembry's abilities will be on display when St. Joseph's (6-2) visits Temple (4-4) at 4 p.m. Sunday in a Big Five game at the Liacouras Center.
Even though he scored a season-high 27 points in a 62-50 win Tuesday over visiting Princeton, it was only the second time Bembry totaled more than 17 points this season.
"His game has never been about scoring," Martelli said. "His game has been about versatility, and in those areas he has been better this year."
A stout defender, Bembry is averaging 7.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.6 steals.
When asked whether Bembry is a future pro, Temple coach Fran Dunphy didn't hesitate.
"Without question I think that is in his future," Dunphy said. "He's got a terrific all-around game."
The difference this year is that Bembry has more scoring help. Four Hawks are averaging in double figures. The other three are senior forward Isaiah Miles (15.9 ppg.), senior guard Aaron Brown (10.5 ppg.), and sophomore forward James Demery (10.3 ppg.)
Last year, St. Joseph's beat Temple, 58-56, and since the Owls were the first team left out of the NCAA tournament, that loss could have impacted the decision.
"Miles really hurt us," Dunphy said about the Hawks forward, who scored 20 points and shot 7 for 14 from the floor.
Temple is coming off a 77-73 win Wednesday at the Palestra over a scrappy Penn team that refused to be put away until the end. Quenton DeCosey had 22 points, and the 6-foot-5 senior leads the Owls in scoring (14.8 ppg.).
"DeCosey is playing the way a senior is expected to play," Martelli said. "He is really trying to leave his mark."
The win over Penn was Temple's first Big Five game. St. Joseph's lost, 86-72, to visiting Villanova on Dec. 1.
This will be the 158th meeting between these two rivals, with Temple leading the series, 89-68.
"It's a great rivalry, and there is always excitement with a Big Five game," Dunphy said. "It is our second in a row, and we face a big challenge."