It has become clear that if Temple wants to revert to its early-season success, when the Owls beat nationally ranked Florida State and West Virginia on consecutive days, then 6-foot-10 sharpshooter Obi Enechionyia has to re-emerge.

Temple is 14-13, and just 5-9 in the American Athletic Conference, heading into its game at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Liacouras Center against surging Connecticut (13-12, 8-5), which has won three in a row and six of seven.

For much of the conference schedule, Enechionyia has struggled. Overall, he is averaging 13.0 points and shooting 37.7 percent from three-point range, but in the 14 conference games he's averaging 10.1 points and shooting 30.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Yet he remains confident that he's capable of a strong late-season run

"I feel at any time it can happen," Enechionyia said before practice Friday.

He can build off last season, when he enjoyed a strong finish. In the final seven regular-season games, Enechionyia averaged 17.2 points.

This season Enechionyia started on fire. In his first seven games he averaged 21 points and shot 24 for 44 (54.5 percent) from three-point range.

He hasn't been able to sustain that level of success, but he has continued to be monitored by NBA scouts.

Unlike some players who might be frustrated, Enechionyia hasn't been forcing shots.

"I try not to force anything and I don't think that is the way you get back into a rhythm," he said. "I try to do what is best for the team, playing unselfishly and not just jacking up shots."

Coach Fran Dunphy wishes he would jack up a few more. For the season Enechionyia is averaging 12 shots per game, and in AAC action he's averaging 10.5 shots.

"I think he passes up a number of open shots, and that is not what I want or his teammates want," Dunphy said. "When he is being guarded as closely as he has, it opens things for his teammates, and that is a big help to the team."

Still, a bigger help is when Enechionyia is hitting three-pointers, which opens up even more room for his teammates.

Enechionyia is coming off a frustrating game Wednesday for himself and the team. He got into foul trouble, played just 21 minutes, and scored six points while attempting four shots in a 78-64 loss at East Carolina.

Not only did the Owls struggle on the court, the plane that was supposed to take them back to Philadelphia had mechanical problems, so the team ended up busing more than six hours home.

It's been that kind of season for the Owls.

Enechionyia has usually been the focal point of an opponent's defensive plan, which means he has received fewer open looks.

It's been frustrating, but Enechionyia has continued to work hard. Dunphy said nobody works more on his shooting than the junior.

Enechionyia knows he has come through late in the season before and figures why not again. In addition to last season, he scored a then-career-high 17 points in Temple's NIT semifinal loss to Miami in 2015.

"I have had late-season runs where I got back in the rhythm and things picked up," Enechionyia said. "I try to keep that mind-set as we play down the stretch this year."

mnarducci@phillynews.com

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