The Temple men's basketball team that received a great deal of preseason hype has finally surfaced.
Since losing their national ranking, the Owls (8-2) have won five consecutive games.
Temple credits its turnaround to losing two of three games in last month's Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Owls entered that Thanksgiving weekend tournament as the nation's 21st-ranked team.
However, their 16-week run, dating to last season, as a nationally ranked program ended after a 57-50 loss to California and a 54-51 heartbreaker to Texas A&M.
"From my standpoint, I think it was the lack of focus that we had" in Florida, said junior swingman Scootie Randall, whose squad will face Ohio (6-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Athens, Ohio. "We are human beings. Sometimes, we lose focus."
Randall believes that had a lot to do with the different atmosphere and the Owls getting out of their normal routine.
Temple shot a combined 32 percent (35 of 108) in those two losses.
"We just couldn't finish the games," center Micheal Eric said. "Guys were not shooting well. We couldn't pick each other up like we usually do.
"But we learned from it, though. We wanted to bounce back from every mistake we made out there."
Temple used an impressive 17-4, game-ending run to beat Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant, Mich., on Dec. 1. The Owls followed that up by sweeping Maryland and Georgetown, the 10th-ranked team. Then Temple posted double-digit victories over Akron and Northern Illinois.
Junior guard Ramone Moore, who scored a career-high 30 points against Georgetown, has averaged 18.6 points during the five-game stretch.
For the season, he's averaging a team-leading 14.7. Senior forward Lavoy Allen takes averages of 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds into Wednesday's nonconference game.
The Bobcats will be led by D.J. Cooper. The sophomore guard finished with a career-high 43 points to go with 13 assists, eight steals and eight rebounds in Saturday's 112-107, four-overtime loss to St. Bonaventure.
Cooper averages a team-leading 20.4 points. Senior forward Tommy Freeman is Ohio's only other double-digit scorer (10.1).
Temple won the only meeting between the schools, a 90-88 victory at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 29, 2007.