Central Florida

Temple keeps spirits high after suffering another close loss at home

Temple keeps spirits high after suffering another close loss at home

BOX SCORE

Temple and UCF nearly exchanged fists a couple times throughout the contest.

In the final two minutes of regulation, they exchanged three-pointers. But Temple couldn’t connect on its attempts at the knockout.

The Owls' two missed shots in the waning seconds cost them the game, as they fell short to UCF on Wednesday, 71-69 (see Instant Replay). It was the Owls’ second consecutive game they’ve dropped with under a minute to go at the Liacouras Center. 

Out of the timeout with 13 seconds to go in the game, Daniel Dingle found a wide open Mark Williams on the wing, but his three-pointer rimmed out as Temple (14-15, 5-11 AAC) lost its third consecutive game. Williams finished with 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting off the bench in the contest for the Owls.

"We went to our fifth senior, Dan. We just gave Dan the ball and told him to go make a play," Shizz Alston Jr. said. “He's our leader, he's our fifth-year senior. He made a good play and kicked it to Mark, another senior, and the ball just didn't go in. But it was well-executed. We wouldn't want the ball in two other peoples’ hands, our two leaders."

The lead changed four times in the final two minutes of the contest.

B.J. Taylor drilled a step-back three to give UCF (18-10, 9-7 AAC) a two-point lead with just under two minutes to go in the game.

Obi Enechionyia answered with a three of his own on the ensuing possession to give the Owls a 69-68 lead with 1:27 left in the contest. The junior looked like the player from earlier in the season that received a lot of NBA draft attention. 

After shooting the ball 0 for 3 in the first half and turning the ball over two times, Enechionyia finished the game with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. He also shot 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in the second half.

It was the most points Enechionyia scored since recording a season-high 26 points against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 30.

"It's great to watch him tonight, especially in the second half where he was knocking it out," Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said. "If this is 'getting over it,’ that would be great. It would certainly help us through the regular-season games and in the playoffs as well."

Still, Enechionyia’s night wasn’t a complete success. He missed a potential go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds left on the clock.

Temple had a tough time avoiding Tacko Fall throughout the game. At 7-6 and 290 pounds, the Senegal native clogged up a good chunk of the paint. He finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also had five blocks and two assists.

But when Fall picked up his second foul with just under five minutes to go in the first half, Temple only allowed UCF to score two field goals in the final eight minutes of the frame. 

"Tacko's tough," Dunphy said. "We needed help on the back side a little bit more than we go it. He made a couple of dunks that were pretty free and easy. He's so difficult to defend out there and he knows how to play. He's really getting to be a good basketball player in addition to being that size and length that's so intimidating." 

Things got pretty chippy in the second half between Alston and Matt Williams. As Williams reeled in a pass on the wing, he brought the ball across his body and hit Alston with his elbow, leaving him with a bloody lip. The two had to be separated as Alston got in Williams’ face after getting off the floor.

The officials ruled the elbow by Williams a basketball play and didn’t call a foul.

Minutes later, Williams shoved Alston near the scorer’s table after he made a steal but this time the officials called it a foul. 

"It was just two guys being competitive," Alston said.

Following the incidents between Alston and Williams, fans at the Liacouras Center booed Williams every time he touched the ball. Williams made all but two shots with the boos raining down on him as he scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half to go along with five rebounds and three assists. 

Alston was second in scoring for Temple behind Enechionyia with 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting. 

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule before the AAC tournament, Alston believes with the way the Owls played against UCF, they can make a run in the conference tournament. 

"We lost this one, but the bright spot, like you guys said, Obi started making shots," Alston said. "When he's making shots, I think we're unbeatable. Even though we lost this one, I'm taking away he had 17 [points] in the second half and I know what he can do when he's hitting shots. He's one of the best players in the country.

"If he's making shots and Dan's playing well, I'm playing well, [Quinton Rose] is playing well, we're a tough team to play. So I think we're going to make a deep run and win the tournament."

Instant Replay: Central Florida 71, Temple 69

Instant Replay: Central Florida 71, Temple 69

BOX SCORE

Temple and UCF went for punch-for-punch in the final two minutes, and the Owls missed their final swing in a 71-69 loss Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Down by one with 20 seconds left, Temple fouled Tacko Fall to attempt a one-and-one. The 7-6 center, who is a 47 percent free throw shooter, missed a and Temple gained possession. 

Temple had a chance to gain the lead on the ensuing possession out of the timeout, but Mark Williams missed a wide-open three-pointer from the wing. 

The loss is Temple's fourth in five games and forces them to 14-15 on the year and 5-11 against AAC opponents. Meanwhile, UCF won for the third straight time to improve to 18-10 (9-7 AAC).

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy has only finished with a record under .500 twice since becoming the Owls’ head coach in 2006.

Ding ding
Midway through the second half, Matt Williams threw an elbow at Shizz Alston Jr. That left the Temple sophomore on the floor and a bloody lip. Alston followed by getting in Williams' face as the refs separated the two from each other. 

The refs ruled the elbow by Williams a basketball play and no foul was called.

Williams and Alston were involved in another scuffle at the scorer’s table after Alston got a steal. Williams shoved Alston and was called for his first personal foul as the two again had to be separated. 

Inside the box score
• Fall finished the game with 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in the contest.

• After finishing the first half 0 for 3 from the field, Obi Enechionyia caught fire for the Owls by shooting 5 of 6 from downtown in the second half. The junior led the Owls in scoring with 17 points. He also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

• Temple shot 47.6 from beyond the arc. The Owls are 6-3 this season when they shoot ball 40 percent or better from three-point land.

• B.J. Taylor finished the game with 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. It's the 10th consecutive game he scored in double figures this season. 

• Mark Williams scored 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting off the bench.

Temple's starting lineup
For the fourth straight game, Dunphy went with the same starting lineup featuring Damion Moore instead of Ernest Aflakpui and Quinton Rose instead of Alani Moore II.

The Owls are 1-3 with this lineup so far. 

After scoring a career-high 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting against UConn on Sunday, Moore finished with two points against UCF. 

First half
Temple had a hard time avoiding the 7-6 big man, Fall, in the first half. Fall had six points, three rebounds and four blocks. But he also picked up two quick fouls, forcing him to the bench at the 4:23 mark.

While Fall watched from the bench, Temple's offense found some rhythm. 

Temple went on a 15-3 run toward the end of the first half as UCF hit only two field goals in the final eight minutes of the frame.

Rose led the Owls with eight points in the first half, while Alston Jr. and Mark Williams each had seven points.

The Owls shot 46.9 percent from the field in the first half, and led by 11 points going into halftime, 33-24. That tripled their amount of points in the first half the last time they faced UCF. They finished with only 11 points in the first half in their first meeting Dec. 31.

What's next
Temple will play its final home game of the season against Tulane on Saturday at noon.

UCF will face Cincinnati at the CFE Center Sunday at 3 p.m.

City 6 Scouting reports: No. 2 Villanova, Temple and St. Joe's in action

City 6 Scouting reports: No. 2 Villanova, Temple and St. Joe's in action

Three City 6 schools will hit the floor in some conference games Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

No. 2 Villanova (26-2, 13-2 Big East) vs. No. 22 Butler (21-6, 10-5 Big East)
9 p.m. at the Pavilion on FOX Sports 1

Last time out
Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins each had 22 points and shot a combined 15 of 17 from the field, as the Wildcats steamrolled Seton Hall, 92-70, on Saturday (see story).

Josh Hart chipped in 19 points, four rebounds, one assist and a steal. Brunson shot a perfect 7 for 7 from the field and racked up a double-double with 10 assists. Villanova got off on a 15-4 run early in the second half to build on a 42-31 lead entering halftime.

Thanks to four players scoring in double figures, Butler beat DePaul, 82-66, at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday. 

Butler trailed by five with just under five minutes to go in the first half, but the Bulldogs finished the frame on a 14-0 run, giving them a 36-27 lead entering halftime.

Nate Fowler led the Bulldogs in points with 15 off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting.

Scouting report
The Wildcats will return home on a seven-game winning streak after three straight road games.

Brunson has been red hot for Villanova on that streak. The sophomore guard has scored at least 15 points in five of the past seven games. He’s also shooting the ball at a 54 percent clip during that stretch.

Although Donte DiVincenzo didn’t have his best outings scoring-wise in the past two games against DePaul and Seton Hall, he’s been a huge help for Wildcats off the bench this season. Over the past seven games, DiVincenzo has had three games in which he’s scored more than 15 points.

Butler enters this game shooting 56 percent or better in back-to-back games. With Villanova possibly missing Darryl Reynolds for a fourth straight game, the Bulldogs could use the 6-10, 250-pound Fowler to take advantage of a smaller ‘Cats lineup.

Despite averaging 5.5 points per game, Fowler scored 15 on Sunday and 19 against Providence on Feb. 11.

What it means
If Villanova wins, it will clinch the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament outright.

With a victory, Butler could solidify itself as the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament. Creighton is a half-game back of the Bulldogs in the conference standings.

Series history
This is the ninth time Villanova and Butler will play each other. Villanova leads the all-time series, 7-1. Butler’s only win over ‘Nova came on Jan. 4 in a 66-58 decision.

What’s next?
Villanova will host No. 23 Creighton Saturday at 3 p.m.

Butler will travel to Cincinnati to play Xavier at the Cintas Center.

Temple (14-14, 5-10 AAC) vs. UCF (17-10, 8-7 AAC)
7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center on ESPNU 

Last time out
Temple led UConn by as many as 10 midway through the second half Sunday, but fell, 64-63, at the Liacouras Center thanks to a layup by Jalen Adams with 2.9 seconds left in the game (see story)

Daniel Dingle had a team-high 17 points for Temple while freshmen Damion Moore and Alani Moore II combined for 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

UCF on Saturday knocked off East Carolina, 61-58, after going on an 11-2 run late in the second half at the Minges Coliseum.

Nick Banyard led the way for UCF with his second double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and hauling in 11 rebounds.

Scouting report
Temple coach Fran Dunphy has gone with a different starting lineup in the past three games. Moore and Quinton Rose have replaced Ernest Aflakpui and Moore II in the starting lineup. Temple is 1-2 in that stretch, but the Owls have seen some flashes of talent out of their young group of players.

Against UConn, Moore looked comfortable in the offense and scored 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting. Rose is averaging 12.7 points, four rebounds and three assists per game in his three starts this season. 

Obi Enechionyia’s minutes have decreased over those past three games even though he’s started all of them. Enechionyia, who averages 32.3 minutes per game, played 29 minutes against Memphis, 21 against East Carolina and 19 against UConn. He’s also shot the ball only 4 of 14 from the field with a combined 18 points in those three games.

Defense has been the staple of UCF's team this season. The Knights are second in scoring defense in the AAC, allowing opponents 60.8 points per game. Opposing teams are shooting 36 percent against UCF, too, which ranks first in the AAC in field goal percentage defense.

Those numbers can be attributed to 7-6 center Tacko Fall, who averages 2.4 blocks per game and alters countless other shot attempts.

UCF is led by its backcourt combo of B.J. Taylor and Matt Williams. Taylor averages 16.6 points per game, while Williams averages 15.5 points per game. Taylor has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.

What it means
A win could help Temple try to find its way out of the bottom four of the AAC. Currently, Temple ranks eighth in the conference, and would play in the first round of the conference tournament.

If UCF wins, it will bump the Knights up to fifth in the AAC standings above Memphis.

Series history
Temple and UCF are meeting for the ninth time. The Owls hold a 5-3 lead in the all-time series.

What’s next?
Temple will play its final home game of the season against Tulane on Saturday at noon.

UCF will face Cincinnati at the CFE Center Sunday at 3 p.m.

St. Joe’s (10-16, 3-11 A-10) vs. St. Bonaventure (16-10, 8-6 A-10)
7 p.m. at Hagan Arena

Last time out
St. Joe’s fell, 83-68, to La Salle at Tom Gola Arena on Saturday (see story). The loss was St. Joe’s sixth consecutive defeat, its longest losing streak since a nine-game skid back in 2011. 

St. Bonaventure lost a thriller in the final seconds to Dayton, 76-72, on Saturday at UD Arena. Darrell Davis of Dayton hit a pair of free throws with 0.9 seconds left to sink the Bonnies.

Scouting report
St. Joe’s hasn’t been lucky this season.

Its two starting backcourt players, Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, both suffered season-ending injuries.

Kimble led the Hawks in scoring at 15.5 points per game, but since he's been sidelined two games ago against UMass, freshman Charlie Brown has played big.

Brown is averaging 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in Kimble’s absence. He’s also scored in double figures in every game except one since January.

St. Bonaventure enters this game winners in three of its last six.

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer, is tied for first in the A-10 in scoring with 21.6 points per game. Matt Mobley also averages 19.0 points per game for St. Bonaventure and shoots 41 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bonnies have the best scoring offense in the A-10, averaging 78.3 points per contest.

What it means
There really isn’t much to gain here for St. Joe’s. The best thing for the Hawks in this game is to test out some of their young talent on the roster for next season. They’re tied for last place in the A-10 with Duquesne and UMass. 

A win for the Bonnies could improve their seeding in the A-10 Tournament. The Bonnies are a 1 1/2 games back of Richmond and Rhode Island, who are both tied for the third spot in the conference.

Series history
This is the 35th time the Hawks and Bonnies will square off. St. Joe’s holds a 23-12 advantage in the all-time series.

What’s next?
St. Joe’s will be on the road against Saint Louis on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

The Bonnies will be home against Duquesne on Saturday at 4 p.m.