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Layup Line: Temple, Again

With only a few conference games to go in the 2014/15 season, the Bearcats and Owls find themselves tied for third place in the American Athletic Conference.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams enter, one will emerge with sole possession of third place in the AAC. Does the fact that this is Cincinnati's third game in six days make you nervous?

Or does the fact that Temple is healthy again make you nervous?

I know you're nervous about something... you are a Bearcat fan afterall. (Well, most of you reading this are Bearcat fans anyway)

  • Game: Tuesday, February 10 @ 7:30pm ET
  • Location: Liacouras Center; Philadelphia, PA
  • TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network; 700 WLW

You may remember the Bearcats putting Temple away at home last month - a game they won by 31. You may also remember the Bearcats shooting 76.9% from the field in the second half that game, including 7-10 from 3-point land.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that won't happen again.

And, yes, the Temple Owls have their co-captain - and co-leading scorer - back: senior guard Will Cummings (#02). He averages 13.2 on the year and has scored double digits in each of the last 5 games.

This marks the second time this year where the Bearcats face a team they were the last to beat. Cincinnati upended SMU last week after their 8 game win streak, and now UC faces Temple, who's currently riding a 5 game win streak since their loss to the Bearcats last month.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Maintain offensive efficiency. Temple has a very good defense - one that might not have shown up in the second half of their game against Cincinnati a few weeks ago. They rank 8th in KenPom's measure of most efficient defenses - a stat that actually ranks ahead of the Bearcats (19th). Grinding out points will be key Tuesday night.
  • Stay healthy. This seems like a no-brainer, but both Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark appear to be banged up a bit. If either of them don't play for long stretches tonight, this might not go in UC's favor.
  • Convert turnovers to points. Temple doesn't have a great offense, statistically, so I think the Bearcats will do what they do on the defensive end. The Owls don't turn the ball over much, so Cincinnati will (obviously) want to capitalize when they do. The more easy buckets you can score against Temple, the better.

It seems like every time this UC team is doubted, they rise to the occasion on a big stage; it's the other games you have to worry about. My first instinct when typing this up was that all the mojo appears to be in Temple's favor: Cummings is back, they're playing in Philly, the Bearcats just struggled against USF. And that's exactly why I'm picking Cincinnati 54-51.