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Preview: Rams (26-9) at Owls (9-22)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: March 10, 2013 12:00 PM EDT
  

Virginia Commonwealth can claim a share of its first Atlantic 10 title in its regular-season finale, but that game is on the road against the hottest team in the conference.

The 21st-ranked Rams will try to snap Temple's lengthy win streak in the first matchup between the programs Sunday.

VCU can only finish in a tie atop the conference standings after Saint Louis won at least a piece of the A-10 crown by blowing out La Salle 78-54 on Saturday. The Billikens also wrapped up the top seed in the conference tournament, but the Rams (24-6, 12-3) can still share the regular-season title in their A-10 debut campaign with a win Sunday.

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That could prove to be a big challenge considering Temple (22-8, 10-5) has won six straight and is trying to bolster its NCAA tournament hopes. The Owls are 1-3 against ranked teams - all top 10 squads - with a win over then-No. 3 Syracuse on Dec. 22 followed by close losses to Kansas and Butler.

"They're playing great," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "Temple's got a terrific team. They're playing as well as anybody in the league. They've rattled off a bunch of wins.

"We have a lot to play for, so it should be an exciting game."

VCU hasn't claimed a regular-season conference title since winning the last of three straight Colonial Athletic Association crowns in 2009.

The Rams, 8-2 on the road, are in position to claim the A-10 championship after winning eight of nine. After blowing out then-No. 20 Butler last weekend, the Rams pulled away late for a 93-82 victory over rival Richmond on Wednesday.

Treveon Graham scored the go-ahead basket with 2:58 to play and scored 15 of his team-best 21 points in the second half.

Graham, averaging a team-high 15.7 points, looks to help VCU keep up with an Owls offense averaging 78.2 points during the six-game win streak.

Temple is committing a conference-low 10.9 turnovers per game.

"They really take care of the ball. That's going to be an interesting factor," Smart said.

The Owls, though, will have to face the Rams' frenetic defense, which is among the nation's best in forcing 20.1 turnovers a contest.

"It's going to be a great challenge for us," coach Fran Dunphy said. "We'll see what we can do against them. ... With the way our season has gone, every game has been a huge game but this one presents a different challenge because of their defensive pressure."

Khalif Wyatt will try to help his team keep rolling while aiding his chances of claiming A-10 player of the year honors. The senior guard is averaging a conference-best 19.5 points and 23.4 over his last 14 games.

Wyatt is coming off his first collegiate double-double, 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 74-55 rout at Fordham on Wednesday.

"He'd get my vote for player of the year," Smart said. "He can score in so many different ways. He's very crafty. He can get to the foul line. He's terrific using ball screens. He does a great job of not only putting the ball in the basket, but getting everyone involved."

Wyatt has done especially well against Top 25 teams lately, averaging 27.0 points in the last three matchups. He scored 33 in the win over Syracuse.

Temple has won five of six at home against ranked opponents, including four victories versus top 10 foes.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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