EVER SEE a flock of seagulls attack a bag of potato chips on the beach?

That's Jaylen Bond playing defense.

He is a constant blur. Switching, moving, talking, attacking, anticipating - and his coach loves every minute of it.

"He is maturing before our eyes," Temple's Fran Dunphy said. "He can guard perimeter guys, he can guard post guys and he's a terrific rebounder. All of those things have helped our defenses immeasurably . . . He's changed how we play."

Temple has inverted its win-loss record from a year ago, when Bond had to sit out after transferring from Texas. Last season, the Owls were 9-22. This season, they are 22-9. One statistic stands out above them all.

Last season's points allowed per game: 78.1.

This season's points allowed per game: 59.9.

That's nearly 20 points fewer. Yo.

Bond, who played at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, leads the American Athletic Conference in rebounds (8.3) and is sixth in steals (1.4). While Connecticut's Amida Brimah led the conference with 101 blocked shots and picked up defensive player of the year honors, Bond's teammates wouldn't trade him for all the cheesesteaks in North Philly.

"Rebounding, blocking shots, making 'SportsCenter' plays, he's doing everything for us on the defensive end," guard Will Cummings said. "And he's giving us offensive stick-backs that really energize us. Without him, I don't know where we would be right now."

In actuality, Temple is averaging about 10 points fewer on offense this season.

"Would we like to be more efficient offensively? Certainly, we would," Dunphy said. "The truth is that when you are a good defensive team, you can be in just about every game."

Coming out of high school, Bond wanted to be a three-man and play on the perimeter on offense. He has a nice touch for someone his size (6-8, 240), but he's better off staying inside the three-point line, where he shoots 51.6 percent. This season, outside the arc, he's 9-for-41 (21.9 percent).

Buying into Dunphy's defense-first system has allowed Bond to flourish and stay on the court. In his second season at Texas, he averaged 11.1 minutes per game. This year for the Owls, he plays 28.2 mpg.

"Once I realized that everybody can't score, [I had] to do something else to help the team," he said. "That's what I pride myself on, my defense. You have to stop the people that are doing the scoring."

His job in tomorrow's quarterfinal game against Memphis will be a little less taxing, with big man Austin Nichols sidelined with a bone bruise in his ankle.

"Not everybody likes to play defense," Bond added, "but the best players - the smartest players - want to play defense."

Tiger tale

Temple beat Memphis in their only meeting this season, when Josh Brown hit a bank shot with 2.4 seconds remaining.

"That changed our season," Cummings said. "That was a defining game when we came back and won that game. It was intense, being down [10] at the half. It took a lot out of us. It was an emotional game, coming together and finding a way to win."

Quotable

"If we're on the sidelines and he says to run [a specific play], we're going to run that play. He's so reliable . . . I'd trust him anywhere." - Fran Dunphy, on his relationship with senior guard Will Cummings.

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz