Texas visits Temple in first true road test of season

Stefan Scrafield

Four weeks into the season, Texas will head to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on the Temple Owls in its first game as the visitor this year.

The Longhorns (7-1) have played each of their first eight games either at home or at the neutral Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., where they played two games during the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

“It will be a tough game for sure,” freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor said. “Obviously, this is our first away game. Going to Temple will be a different look for us. It will give us a chance to progress and build as a team.”

Texas has exceeded expectations so far this year, having displayed an impressive ability to win close games. It has also demonstrated a cohesiveness that Longhorn teams of the past couple seasons appeared to lack.

One thing we haven’t seen them conquer is a hostile environment. The nearly four-hour flight up to the City of Brotherly Love to take on a Temple (4-3) team that has made the tournament each of its last six seasons will provide Texas with that test.

“Its going to be a challenge for us,” said freshman guard Kendal Yancy, who is coming off his best performance as a Longhorn against Vanderbilt. “We’ll see how mature we are when faced with the challenge of getting a win when everybody’s against us.”

Past success aside, this year’s Owls got off to a slow start, but have been playing well of late. Temple has won three straight, including a victory over another power-conference contender, Georgia.

Unlike Texas head coach Rick Barnes, who likes to spread the scoring and lean heavily on his freshmen, Owls head coach Fran Dunphy relies on a trio of upperclassmen to carry the load. Junior guard Will Cummings leads the team, averaging 17.9 points and 4.6 assists per game. Dalton Pepper, the team’s only senior, and forward Anthony Lee, who provides Temple with an inside presence, average 16 and 13.3 points per contest, respectively.

“Fran’s [Dunphy] teams are always hard-nosed,” Barnes said. “We’re going to have to go in there and execute, because they’re not going to give this game away.”