Originally posted on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 1/7/12

There’s plenty of buzz around the city surrounding the Temple Owls’ basketball program after their thrilling upset of Duke University three days ago. Riding the momentum of that historical win and their current four-game win streak, the Owls will open up A-10 conference play against the Dayton Flyers.

Similar to Temple, the Flyers are riding a streak of their own, a three-game run with wins over an SEC program (Ole Miss) and a conference opponent (St. Louis). Behind the play of Kevin Dillard and Chris Johnson, the Flyers are out to prove they are the top dog in the A-10 with a win over Temple.

Dillard is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 12.2 ppg and 5.4 apg, and he will be heavily relied on in Saturday’s game. He got off to a fast start in conference play after recording a double-double against St. Louis, notching 18 points and 10 assists in the overtime win.

Assisting Dillard on the scoring end is Johnson, who has risen to the occasion when matched up against bigger schools. He compiled 16 points each against Seton Hall and Ole Miss, 18 points against Minnesota, and 20 versus Alabama. In his career, Johnson has collected 13 double-digit scoring totals in 15 games against BCS opponents. Temple isn’t a BCS opponent, though, but they are a potential March Madness team that proved this week they can ball with the best of them.

With Dillard and Johnson in the lineup, the Flyers are a dangerous team. But unfortunately for Dayton, they lost star forward Josh Benson in the Ole Miss game after he went down with a torn ACL that will keep him out for the entire season. Prior to going down, Benson was on pace for a career-year, averaging a career-high 10.9 ppg and 5.2 rpg. His absence will certainly affect Dayton as they progress through their conference schedule.

“Obviously with the recent injury to Josh Benson as we enter conference play we are in a rebuilding mode and to re-identify ourselves with a couple tweaks we’re going to have to make moving forward,” said Dayton head coach Archie Miller during the A-10’s weekly coaches’ teleconference.

With Miller implying that his team is rebuilding with the injury to Benson, this creates a genuine opportunity for Temple to kick off their conference play with a big-time win over Dayton.

Temple will need their guards to continue their hot streaks entering conference play, especially that of Khaliff Wyatt, who is coming off a 22-point effort and multiple clutch three-pointers down the stretch in the win over Duke.

That win over Duke will supply a ton of momentum for Temple as they enter conference play, but with all that momentum comes the risk of being over confident and overlooking opponents, such as Dayton. This most likely won’t be the case because of Temple’s head coach Fran Dunphy stressing to his players immediately after Wednesday’s win to enjoy the win for one night and to place all their attention on Dayton the following day. That reassurance should be enough to keep these Temple players straight and focused as they prepare for the long haul of conference play. 

Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter @Kyle_Phillippi!

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