After getting career-best performances from Dalton Pepper and Will Cummings in a win over Pennsylvania in the season opener, Temple opens its home schedule against Kent State on Monday. The Owls nearly blew a 15-point lead, falling behind by two with 39 seconds left before rolling off the game’s final seven points. “We would have liked for it to have been easier,” Pepper told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But the good thing is we showed poise down the stretch.”
Pepper, a senior who averaged just 2.9 points as a reserve last season, finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, both career highs, and Cummings added 18 points in a performance that left coach Fran Dunphy pleased overall. “I thought we did a really good job for a large part of that game.” Derek Jackson, a transfer from Central Michigan, impressed in his debut for the Golden Flashes, scoring 18 points as Kent State rolled over Ohio Northern 84-48.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT KENT STATE (1-0): The Golden Flashes lost their top two scorers from last season and will look to their three returning starters to fill the void. Guard Kris Brewer, who averaged 9.1 points and 2.7 assists in 2012-13, leads that group while Darren Goodson and Mark Henniger return in the frontcourt. Goodson had 11 points and six rebounds and Brewer added seven points and a team-high eight boards in the opener.
ABOUT TEMPLE (1-0): The Owls lost five seniors, including Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year Khalif Wyatt, from last season’s team that finished 24-10, so extending their run of six straight NCAA Tournament appearances will be no small feat. When you consider their switch to the American Athletic Conference, which includes the likes of Louisville, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Memphis, Dunphy’s call for all hands on deck this season makes perfect sense. “We are a little bit inexperienced but that is the challenge we have in front of us. We are going to use anyone who will step up,” he said.
1. Temple is 3-1 all-time against Kent State, winning their meeting last season 80-66.
2. Jackson started 31 of 32 games for Central Michigan as a sophomore, averaging 11.5 points.
3. F Anthony Lee, the Owls’ leading returning scorer who averaged 9.8 points last season, had his sixth career double-double in the opener with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
PREDICTION: Temple 72, Kent State 65