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DEACONS TAKE WINNING STREAK ON THE ROAD\ WAKE FOREST CASTS A WARY EYE TOWARD STRUGGLING TEMPLE.
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DEACONS TAKE WINNING STREAK ON THE ROAD\ WAKE FOREST CASTS A WARY EYE TOWARD STRUGGLING TEMPLE.

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One team has won nine in a row and 14 consecutive games over two seasons, while the other has lost six straight.

But to Wake Forest coach Dave Odom, the only thing that matters about his team's game tonight is that the opponents will be wearing a jersey that says ``TEMPLE'.``Temple is Temple no matter when you're playing them,' he said. ``You're playing (Temple coach) John Chaney no matter what the circumstances: home, away, whether they're on a win streak or we are or the reverse.

``John Chaney is not afraid to win, he's not afraid to lose, he's not afraid to lay it out there. We've won nine in a row this year and that won't have any effect on (tonight's) game, and I don't believe the fact that they've lost six in a row will have any effect, either.

``We know this: One of the streaks is going to be gone.'

This is the longest losing streak of Chaney's 19 seasons at Temple. Some of it can be attributed to a strong schedule that includes two losses to top-ranked Duke and another to No. 16 Wisconsin.

``It's not an easy thing for me to swallow,' Chaney said after the Wisconsin game. ``But I can only see things getting better. If we stay healthy, we'll be all right.'

Temple's depth is thin, particularly after freshman forward Carlton Aaron was suspended for talking back to an assistant coach and sophomore guard Ronald Blackshear asked for his release so he can transfer.

Then, too, the Owls have yet to find adequate replacements for three of last season's starters - point guard Pepe Sanchez, forward Lamont Barnes and forward Mark Karcher.

``If this team were the same team we had last year, I would probably find myself very disappointed,' Chaney told the Philadelphia Inquirer. ``I'm upset about this, but I can see that there is some progress being made.'

Odom apparently has gotten the message across to his players, many of whom have faced Chaney's matchup zone defense the past two seasons.

``They've lost a few in a row, but we still feel like they're a threat to beat us,' said guard Craig Dawson. ``We've had some success against that zone in the past. We're going to try to make them come out of it and play us man-to-man.'

The Deacons' No. 6 ranking and winning streak aren't a topic of conversation among the players or coaches.

``I'm not fool enough to believe it's going to go on forever,' Odom said. ``We're going to lose a game sometime, and when we do we'll regroup like we always have and find out what's wrong and keep moving.'\ \ Contact Bill Hass at 373-7047 or bhass@news-record.com

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