Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics
By John Weis (’94)
Next UCF Opponent: Temple Owls (13-9, 7-2 AAC)
2021-2022 Record: 17-12 (10-7 AAC)
Coach: Aaron McKie (4th Season, 49-49)
Last Game: 1/2 vs USF (W, 79-76 OT)
Opening Tip: 1/28 Noon EST, Addition Financial Arena (TV: ESPN Plus)
Opponent at a Glance
Though the Owls sit firmly in second place in the AAC at 7-2 behind only Houston – and are the only team to beat them in conference play thus far – I am still not completely sure what to think about this team. They are only four games above .500 overall and are not particularly deep, even with former UCF Forward Jamille Reynolds’ recent return from a thumb injury that sidelined him for more than a month. Temple has played nine conference games, but all except one have been decided by 10 points or less. There’s no reason to think this won’t be a similar type of game.
Coach Aaron McKie has a roster stocked with talented youngsters. Each of their top seven players, including Reynolds, are Sophomores. It begins with 6’5” Khalif Battle (17.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.8 rpg); 6’5” Damian Dunn (15.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.6 apg); and Reynolds (10.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) as double-digit scorers.
6’7” Zach Hicks (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 apg); 6’1” Hysier Miller (8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 apg); Nick Jourdain (6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg); and Jahlil White (5.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg) are also contributors. The only Senior in the rotation is 6’9” Northern Colorado transfer Kur Jongkuch, who averages 1.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg.
This will be a team to keep an eye on in next year’s watered-down AAC, with all the young guns Coach McKie has assembled.
While the Owls are off to a great start, they have their most difficult stretch ahead. They must still play UCF twice, as well as Houston, Memphis, Tulane and Cincinnati.
The Owls are averaging 69.1 points per game and are surrendering 68.0.
The two teams will meet again on March 2, this time at Temple.
Temple leads the all-time series 10-7. The Knights and Owls split their two meetings last season, with the Knights dominating the first game at home, while Temple captured a four-point win on their home court in the rematch.
The ESPN matchup predictor gives the Knights a 54.3 percent chance to win.
Not so long ago, Temple was a perennial Top-20 team under the guidance of legendary Coach John Chaney (1982-2006), as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 24 seasons as a head coach, all with Temple, Chaney won 516 games and played in 17 NCAA Tournaments.
During their heyday, Temple turned out a number of players who had respectable NBA careers, including McKie. However, the player who had perhaps the best NBA career of any former Owl is Eddie Jones, the 6’6” Guard who played 14 seasons in the league, mostly with the Lakers and Heat. In 954 career games, the player known as “Steady Eddie” averaged 14.8 points per game. He averaged a career-high 20.1 points per contest during the 1999-2000 season, and he was a three-time NBA All-Star.
Anyone remember this from 1994? It’s the famous Calipari/Chaney incident. Whether you have or haven’t seen it, it’s a fun clip and worth a look. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giFBHxnQ88A
John Weis is a freelance Writing/PR professional. His company, Weis Words (www.weiswords.biz) serves national clients such as advertising agencies, public relations firms and sports organizations, as well as small businesses and private individuals. A native Central Floridian and basketball enthusiast, he spent six seasons as Broadcast Coordinator for the Orlando Magic Radio Network early in his career. He graduated from UCF in 1994 with a degree in Communications and can’t wait for the Knights to move to the Big XII.