- The Temple Owls (1-3, 0-3 AAC) host the Central Florida Knights (3-3, 1-2 AAC) Thursday, Jan. 14
- Both teams have combined to play just two games in the new year due to COVID-19
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Temple Owls (1-3, 0-3 AAC) will try to rebound from a 79-68 loss to SMU in their first game in nearly two weeks when they host the Central Florida Knights (3-3, 1-2 AAC) Thursday, Jan. 14 in Philadelphia. Tip is set for noon ET inside the Liacouras Center.
Between Monday’s loss to the Mustangs for the Owls and UCF’s 68-61 defeat to South Florida Jan. 2, these two program’s have combined to play only two games in the new year due various coronavirus-related issues.
UCF vs Temple Odds
|UCF||-2.5 (-118)||-158||Ov 134.5 (-112)|
|Temple||+2.5 (-102)||+134||Un 134.5 (-108)|
Odds taken Jan. 13 at FanDuel
With only four games (two against SMU) played in the 2020-21 campaign, it’s hard to know what to make of Aaron McKie’s Temple team.
Meanwhile, Johnny Dawkins’ team has only played six games in this already-abbreviated season, but it’s easier to gauge where the Knights are at based on their performances so far. UCF has knocked off Auburn and Florida State and hung with preseason conference favorite Houston in a nine-point loss.
Due to each teams’ respective volume — and output — it’s not surprising to see UCF is favored on the road.
Temple of the ‘Dog
You have to feel a bit for McKie in his second year at the helm of the Owl program after taking over for Fran Dunphy. The 14-year NBA veteran and Philly native led his alma mater to a 14-17 record last season — a far cry from Dunphy’s 13-year run that included eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
This season started with a 24-day delay due to COVID-19 shutdowns and the Owls have played a grand total of three teams: the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Houston and SMU (twice).
Temple handled America East program NJIT with ease, got blown out by then-No. 6 Houston and lost both outings to the Mustangs. The 2020-21 unit returned two starters from last year’s group — JP Moorman II and Jake Forrester — neither of whom currently lead the team in scoring. That honor would go to 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Damion Dunn, who is averaging 14.3 points per game.
Temple came into the season with low expectations, having lost four of its top five scorers from a year ago. And as the second-lowest rated AAC squad (at No. 149) by KenPom, it’s no surprise the Owls are home underdogs Thursday.
Johnny on the Spot
It may be hard to believe, but this is UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins’ fifth season at the school. Following a disappointing turn at Stanford (only one tourney berth in eight seasons on The Farm), the former longtime Duke assistant and Blue Devil standout player has seemingly found his spot leading the Knights.
? GAME WEEK‼️#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/YF23XewX7G
— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) January 12, 2021
Tabbed to finish eighth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll, UCF is currently the AAC’s seventh-rated team at No. 91 overall. But the Knights have acquitted themselves well so far, considering they have played the fourth-toughest schedule in the country.
Senior guard Brandon Mahan paces the way for UCF, averaging 17.5 points a night. The former Texas A&M transfer had a career-high 32 points in Central Florida’s signature win of the season, an 86-74 victory over then-No. 15 Florida State in Tallahassee that snapped the Seminoles’ 27-game home winning streak.
Mahan and the Knights have only played three games since that Dec. 19 win, going 1-2 since. But rest assured, Dawkins will have Mahan and the rest of his Knights ready Thursday.
After Houston, the second spot in the AAC is up for grabs. Central Florida is certainly part of that mix.
The Knights are part of a logjam of programs rated between No. 55-91 by KenPom — making every conference game count that much more, especially when UCF has only played six games so far.
With wins over an SEC team (that also played in the most recent Final Four) and an ACC team (that had aspirations of making a deep run last year and has similar hopes again in ’21), the Knights are building a nice Big Dance resume. A win Thursday continues to bolster the case.
The pick: UCF -2.5 (-118)