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Temple up for the challenge of playing at Kansas

Temple up for the challenge of playing at Kansas

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Khalif Wyatt was on a recruiting visit with a prime seat two rows behind Temple's bench.

He was planning to play for the Owls, anyway, but what he saw in that Dec. 13, 2008, game against No. 8 Tennessee only reaffirmed his decision.

``I watched Dionte Christmas go crazy,'' Wyatt said.

Christmas, a former Temple scoring star, had 35 points to help Temple upset the Volunteers 88-72. Owls fans stormed the Liacouras Center court in a wild celebration for what was coach Fran Dunphy's watershed victory of his first three seasons.

Wyatt so badly wanted to join the fun.

``I didn't storm the court,'' a smiling Wyatt said, ``but I thought about it.''

Wyatt hasn't missed much else since Temple proved how formidable a program it can be against basketball's elite.

The Owls knocked off unbeaten No. 3 Villanova the following season, again allowing their students to stretch their legs in a mad dash toward the court. The following season was yet another home win against a top-10 team, this time No. 9 Georgetown.

Wyatt scored 22 points in a victory last season over No. 5 Duke at the Wells Fargo Center. And he dominated for a career-high 33 points last month in an 83-79 win over then-No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.

In case you lost track, the `Cuse victory made it five straight seasons Temple has beaten a top-10 team while unranked.

``As a player, that's what you want,'' Wyatt said.

Wyatt, now a senior and Temple's leading scorer, is getting greedy and wants to do it one more time. The Owls (10-2) have their toughest test of the season Sunday when they play No. 6 Kansas (11-1) at Allen Fieldhouse. Not at home. Not at a neutral site. But before 16,300 ``Rock Chalk'' chanting fans at the Phog.

``It's just another game to put Temple on the map,'' forward Scootie Randall said.

Few programs are as ingrained in the hoops landscape as the Owls.

Temple won its 1,800th game last month, becoming the sixth school to reach that milestone. The Owls have had only four coaches since 1953 and two of them - Harry Litwack and John Chaney - are in the Hall of Fame. They've made 30 NCAA tournaments, including the last five.

Not too shabby.

But not quite Kansas, which has a permanent spot in basketball's royal court, along with Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina. Those teams and Syracuse make up the rest of the 1,800 club. All of them have won a national championship - except Temple. The Owls' only two Final Fours came in 1956 and 1958. Chaney came so close, but went 0 for 5 in regional finals. Dunphy has yet to lead Temple out of the first weekend of the tournament.

The common thread among the six has been remarkable consistency and (except for Kentucky) coaching stability.

``I think we're different than most of the others,'' Dunphy said. ``We're an inner-city university that has an unbelievable mission. I think we're as unique to that world as any other program ever.''

Chaney was as responsible as anyone for molding Temple into the program it is today. Yes, he was controversial. You bet he was outspoken. But he won. And he did it against a loaded non-conference schedule that was always among the toughest in the nation. Chaney and the Owls always had a place in the national basketball scene as long as they were playing the kind of teams in the hunt for deep runs in the NCAA tournament.

When Chaney retired, Dunphy kept the same scheduling approach. Duke was back on the schedule this season, along with Syracuse and Kansas. That's three top-10 teams in stand-alone games, not as part of some bracketed fields like at the Maui Invitational.

Kansas played at the Liacouras Center three years ago and returns to Philadelphia in the 2014-15 season.

The only way to start a streak of defeating top-10 teams is to schedule them.

``I would say, `Why not?''' Dunphy said. ``It's a great chance for your players to test themselves at the highest possible level. I think that's what you want for your guys. You do it for recruiting reasons. You do it for the benefit of your fan base, but most of all, you do it for the benefit of your student-athlete.''

Temple AD Bill Bradshaw said before the season the scheduling might change with next year's move to the Big East. But that was before the seven Catholic schools decided to ditch the conference to form their own league. So there could be room yet for a Michigan or Arizona to fill the void.

``We love it,'' Randall said. ``Sometimes you can't win and that's the bad part. But it's a great opportunity to go out there and showcase what you can do.''

No, they can't win them all. Randall, a fifth-year senior, remembers losing by 12 to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in 2008. The Jayhawks routed the Owls in Philadelphia in 2010. And Duke took out some frustration from last season's loss with a 23-point victory over the Owls in December.

Pay heed, Temple: Kansas has won 29 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse and 62 straight against non-conference teams on its home floor.

Still, Temple's knack of toppling top-10 opponents like Syracuse has put KU on notice.

``It was a great win for Temple on a neutral court and I think it does, and will, get our guys' attention,'' coach Bill Self said. ``From a selfish standpoint, it gives us a better strength of schedule, which does nothing but help us later on down the road.''

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Follow Dan Gelston at www.twitter.com/APGelston

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Sunday's game against Indiana was the best of Jalen Smith's collegiate career. 

The 6-10 forward had just set another career-high. Pouring on 29 points and sinking the game-winning layup to vault the Maryland Terrapins over Indiana, he was on top of the world. What he did next is what many will remember the most from Smith's performance that afternoon. 

'Stix,' as many in the Terrapins community call him, was clearly overcome with emotion. Once the postgame interviews were completed, he walked toward a large contingent of Hoosier fans and began chirping back at a raucous crowd.

He is seen mouthing the words "this is my court," before bending down and tapping Indiana's logo.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon saw Smith's taunting and quickly stepped in to diffuse the situation. Immediately he shut down Smith and expressed his displeasure to the sophomore. 

Smith was then escorted off the court by two Maryland assistants. 

Normally Smith is the calm, cool and easy-going player on a roster full of characters. Postgame he is extremely forthcoming with the media and stays to answer every question asked of him. When he's around there is an infectious smile that he proudly boasts. 

This, however, was something not seen by Smith before. Less than an hour following his antics, Smith apologized on Twitter. 

"I want to sincerely apologize to all the Indiana’s fans and players for how I acted at the end of the game. I let my emotions get the best of me and it won’t happen again. I have nothing but respect for all Indiana’s fans and players. Please forgive me and I wish you all the best," Smith said.

It appeared to be a situation where Smith lost control of his emotions after the Terps clawed back by scoring the final seven points of the game. Turgeon admitted that this was not how Smith normally acts and apologized on behalf of him. 

"It's not who he is," Turgeon explained postgame. "I apologize to Archie [Miller], the team, Indiana nation - or whatever you guys call yourself - Hoosier nation. We're sorry for the way we acted."

On Monday morning he further explained Smith's character and how abnormal his actions were during a weekly appearance on The Sports Junkies.

"Jalen Smith is one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. He's the most humble superstar you'll ever be around and he lost his mind for a minute," Turgeon told The Junkies. "That will never happen again, I can promise you that... I hope people don't judge him on that one minute. I hope they judge him on what kind of competitor he was yesterday and what a great kid he is."

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