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PSU must be ready for Temple's physical play

March 15, 2011 - Cory Giger
While most teams in the NCAA Tournament have no idea what to expect from their first-round opponent, Penn State and Temple have a good feel for each other based on a preseason scrimmage back in November.

The Nittany Lions know how physical the Owls will be because, well, Temple pushed them around during the scrimmage.

"I remember them beating us up inside," PSU guard Talor Battle said. "I think they were a little tougher at the time."

The key there being, as full seasons go, the distant past.

"That was a long time ago," Battle said. "Of late, we've been really playing physical, matching the intensity of the other teams. So I think in that aspect we're prepared.

"I just remember the first little segment we played they beat us up pretty good," Battle added. "And then we started playing a little better."

The teams didn't keep score during the scrimmage, Battle noted.

Forward Jeff Brooks concurred with Battle's memory.

"I remember there were some big guys, but I just remember that we weren't playing physical," Brooks said. "It was like our first little game situation, guys were a little shy."

And now, Brooks added, "We're a completely different team."

Battle said the same thing, almost word for word.

"We're a different basketball team now," he said.

Temple, most certainly, is too.

"They're a big, strong team, they play similar to us, try to get on the glass," Battle said. "They don't score too many points, they don't play too fast, so it's an interesting matchup and we're looking forward to it."

Penn State will try to match Temple's physical play, meaning defense, rebounding and protecting the ball will all be keys. Some statistical comparisons:

Temple is 86th in the nation in rebounding margin at +2.8, while PSU is 136th at +1.4.

Temple is 65th in FG percentage defense at 41.1, while PSU is 213th at 43.8.

Both teams protect the ball well. Penn State is 10th in turnovers per game at 10.6, while Temple is 15th at 10.8.

For all those similar stats, there's one glaring difference between the two teams.

Temple scores at a much higher clip than PSU, averaging 70.9 points compared to just 63.0 for the Lions, who rank 289th in the country. Then again, Penn State was going up against much better competition most nights in the Big Ten than Temple was in the Atlantic 10.

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