Not long after Temple shook off a slow start against Towson last week, coach Fran Dunphy wasted little time in sizing up the Owls' next opponent, No. 7 Villanova.
"They are a really good team, and this is a great opportunity for us," Dunphy said of the Owls' final Big Five game. "They share the ball, they defend. They've got a lot of really good parts to their team, and I think they all buy in. It's going to be a challenge for us."
Temple (6-3, 2-1 Big Five) plays Villanova (9-0, 2-0 Big Five) Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Pavilion in a nationally televised game on Fox Sports 1. Villanova leads the series, 45-43, the closest won-loss mark among Big Five foes. Sunday's winner will clinch at least a share of the city series crown.
While the Owls are a work in progress - they have struggled to score but are much-improved defensively - Villanova coach Jay Wright's team doesn't appear to have missed a beat.
Balanced at the offensive end last season, the Wildcats are even more so this season.
Not a single Villanova player has scored more than 20 points in a game, with Dylan Ennis' 19 points in the opener vs. Lehigh the team's season high. Ennis, however, who leads the Wildcats in scoring (12.9 points per game), scored 18 in the Cats' 73-59 win over Illinois at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday and has started to show that he could emerge as a go-to scorer.
Villanova has held six of its nine opponents to fewer than 60 points. And overall, opponents are averaging just 56.1 points per game and shooting just 39.9 percent from the floor.
Temple, which is shooting just 36.4 percent from the floor compared with Villanova's 47.6, has relied heavily on the backcourt of Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey. Cummings leads Temple in scoring (14.9), rebounding (6.3), assists (3.0), and steals (1.3)
DeCosey averages 14.3 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Owls. Averaging 62.4 points per game (Villanova averages 75.1), the Owls have generated offense by getting to the free-throw line.
"They always are an outstanding defensive team, and their defensive numbers are very good again," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They're ninth in the country in percentage of points on the foul line. When they are making shots, they're incredible. But when they are not making shots, they find ways to score by getting to the foul line and offensive rebounding."