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Temple transitions into a new era under former Owl, Aaron McKie

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It’s the second part of a home and home series, and Missouri will try to avenge last years’ loss.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four- Belmont Bruins vs Temple Owls Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

With Missouri releasing their season non-conference schedule, we’re taking a brief look at each of their opponents. You can catch up with the previous posts in the series here:

Moving on from a home contest against Charleston Southern, Mizzou heads to Philadelphia with their return trip to Temple for the second half of a home-and-home series against the Owls. The first half of the series didn’t go as planned for the Tigers, as they were unable to overcome an early second half deficit. Temple held off a comeback attempt to win the game, and it seemed a harbinger of things to come for both teams.

Temple did just enough last year to get into the tournament, sending Fran Dunphy into retirement on a high note. Missouri, on the other hand, played well in spurts, but ended up falling short of goals and expectations for the season.

But new year new teams, sort of. Temple and Missouri both have a lot returning.

Temple Owls

Last season: 23-10, 69 in KenPom

Torvik Projection: 86

Head Coach: Aaron McKie

Memphis v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It might be hard to explain to some how excited I am that Aaron McKie has taken over the head coaching position for the Temple Owls. McKie was a big part of an awesome run of Temple basketball in the early 1990s, which I would consider the very formidable years of my basketball fandom. McKie, along with Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson, formed a dynamic trio of players who were exciting to watch and tough to play against. McKie played 13 years in the NBA, coached at the NBA level and then joined up with the staff at Temple, eventually being tagged to replace Fran Dunphy upon Dunphy’s retirement.

Dunphy had a moderately successful run at Temple making the tournament in eight of 13 seasons, but Temple is a tricky program. In the Atlantic 10, they were capable of making the tournament on a consistent basis in a multi-bid league. But the conference realignment shifted Temple — and their football program — to the American Athletic Conference. Facing a regular slate of schools like Cincinnati, Houston, SMU, and Houston, the sledding got a little more difficult and Temple sputtered.

Still, they’re in a good position to build upon a solid season a year ago.

RETURNING PLAYERS OF NOTE:

  • Quinton Rose — 85.4% %min, 16.3 ppg
  • Nate Pierre-Louis — 84.5% %min, 13.3 ppg
  • J.P. Moorman — 57.1% %min, 5.9 ppg
  • Alani Moore — 36.4% %min, 4.1 ppg

Last season, Rose was a key in the Owls’ win over Missouri, but the overarching reason for the Tigers’ loss was a 15:5 turnover ratio compared to Temple. Missouri had trouble holding onto the ball, giving the Owls 14 more shot attempts in the game, negating some pretty good defense. Temple relied upon their pressure defense to get the Tigers to give up the ball.

And now the game moves to more friendly confines for Temple. It’s a situation which doesn’t look ideal for Mizzou. The question for McKie and the Owls is how do they replace the production of graduated senior Shizz Alston, Jr.. Alston was the leading scorer last year, but he was also the primary facilitator and late clock playmaker. Rose and Pierre-Louis both played the role of Porthos and Aramis, to Alston’s Athos (The Three Musketeers, if you’re curious).

Before Missouri, Temple will face two of the big five (Temple, Villanova, Drexel, LaSalle, St. Josephs), and make a trip to USC. Plus they’re playing in the Orlando Invitational, so we should have a good idea of how good the Owls are before the two teams take the court at the Liacouras Center on December 7th.