Temple is taking another trip Saturday up the New Jersey Turnpike to face another top-five opponent, and the Owls again are a decided underdog.

They will face No. 3 Syracuse at noon in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. Temple's last game in the New York area did not go well.

Top-ranked Duke destroyed Temple, 90-67, on Dec. 8 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.

Other than its second-half performance at Villanova, the Owls (8-2) have not been able to put together an impressive game this season. It can be argued that Temple has padded its record with a nonconference schedule that is packed with inferior mid-major competition.

But the Owls are eager for the opportunity to play the Orange (10-0), whose coach, Jim Boeheim, recorded his 900th career victory Monday night. They are fully aware that it will take their best performance of the season to earn a win.

"Their zone is very difficult to score against," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of the Orange's trademark 2-3 defense. "They are long. They get in great position. They know what they are doing. That's what they play.

"So we are going to work diligently . . . to see if we can get shots against them."

The Owls did not make many shots in Wednesday's 72-62 setback to Canisius. Temple made just 4 of 28 three-pointers while shooting 35.4 percent from the field.

Temple's leading scorers and best players are guard Khalif Wyatt, averaging 14.5 points, and swingman Scootie Randall (13.7), but both have been struggling.

After making only 1 of 12 three-point shots Wednesday, Randall is 3 for 27 from long distance in the last four games. Aside from his 5-for-12 effort in the season opener, the fifth-year senior has made just 21.6 percent of his three-point attempts.

Wyatt has made just 21 of 69 shots in his last five games. He will look to lead the Owls against an Orange squad with a 52-game winning streak against nonconference opponents.

Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams leads the nation with an average of 10.7 assists. The 6-foot-6 sophomore also averages 12.3 points and five rebounds. Reserve forward James Sutherland averages a team-leading 15.9 points.

Guard Brandon Triche (14.3 points) and forward C.J. Fair (11.3 points) are Syracuse's other double-digit scorers. Starting power forward Rakeem Christmas, who played at the Academy of the New Church, averages 2.5 blocked shots.

Boeheim is the third Division I men's coach with 900 career victories. The 68-year-old, in the 37th season at his alma mater, improved to 900-304 after beating Detroit, 72-68, on Monday.

"Jim Boeheim's career is absolutely remarkable," Dunphy said. "He's been there for a long, long time. And he seems like he's getting better. That's pretty scary."

Syracuse vs. Temple

Saturday at noon at Madison Square Garden

TV: ESPN2

Radio: WPHT-AM 1210

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Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on twitter @pompeysgridlock.