After a milestone win over Duke, Maryland needed an opponent that would get its attention. Temple fills the bill.
The Terps meet the Owls today in a nationally televised game in Philadelphia. Maryland coach Gary Williams grew up across the Delaware River in Camden, N.J., Danny Miller and Tahj Holden are also Jersey guys, and Juan Dixon wants to get back at Temple star Mark Karcher for all of the Catholic League beatings St. Frances used to lay on Calvert Hall.
"Temple is playing extremely well. They're going right through the A-10," Dixon said. "It's time for us to get off of Cloud 9."
Dixon and the Terps are coming off of a dreamy, 98-87 win over No. 3 Duke that ended several record win streaks. No. 19 Temple, the Atlantic 10 Conference's best, is on a remarkable run of its own. The Owls have won nine straight and 12 of 13 since point guard Pepe Sanchez returned from an ankle sprain.
"He's a veteran, calming player," Williams said. "The way Temple plays, it's important to have a ball-handling guard who plays under control. Sanchez has all this experience at the way [coach John] Chaney plays, and he makes their team different."
Chaney employs a matchup zone and a walk-it-up attack that has made the Owls the stingiest team in the nation. They're allowing 53.9 points a game.
Maryland blitzed Temple, 83-66, at Baltimore Arena two years ago, but the rematch should be more difficult. The Owls had a big A-10 game against Massachusetts the next day in 1998, and Karcher was academically ineligible as a freshman. Now he's considered the best talent in the A-10.
Pundits have talked about the importance of the nonconference game to the ACC, which could have only three teams in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Williams isn't buying.
"[The NCAA] really judged that game the other night," Williams said of the win over Duke. "We're playing this game for Maryland. We helped the rest of the conference the other night."
Pub Date: 2/13/00