Temple Owls

Rare Dunphy outburst costs Temple

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Rare Dunphy outburst costs Temple

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Stuck in a losing streak and clinging to a two-point lead over a Top 25 team, perhaps Temple coach Fran Dunphy should have taken a swig out of a water bottle instead of taking a swing at one.

Angered over an offensive foul whistled against the Owls, Dunphy -- who would rarely be confused with his Hall of Fame predecessor John Chaney for furious outbursts -- smacked the bottle on the scorer's table and the plastic container soared onto the court.

Dunphy was whistled for a technical -- and No. 19 Cincinnati pounced.

The Bearcats took the lead off the T, then capped their rally when Jacob Evans III hit the winner with .4 seconds to play to send the Bearcats to a 55-53 win over Temple on Thursday night.

"I'm usually pretty good at grabbing the bottle," Dunphy said. "I fumbled it and it went on the court. One official came from the other side and said, `I have to call it.'"

Dunphy clearly didn't mean to send the bottle to a landing spot just shy of midcourt. But his open-hand slap with 2:20 left turned the tide toward the Bearcats.

"That's not my style," Dunphy said. "I don't get technical fouls. I don't want players getting them and I shouldn't be getting them either."

Cincinnati forward Gary Clark made one of two free throws off the technical to cut the Bearcats' deficit to one. Kyle Washington put the Bearcats ahead 52-50 on a 3-pointer off a loose ball rebound from Clark's miss.

Alani Moore II scored three straight points for Temple that tied the game at 53-all.

Evans hit the jumper from a step inside the top of the 3-point arc over Josh Brown in the final second to win it.

"I just tried to use my size and get a shot up on the rim," Evans said. "Everybody's watching. It's a nationally televised game. That should be enough juice there. If people want to get to the next level, you've got to perform every night."

Washington led the Bearcats (13-2, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) with 18 points and Evans had 14.

Obi Enechionyia led the Owls (7-7, 0-3) with 14 points. The Owls have lost four straight games.

Temple got nothing from leading scorer Quinton Rose (16.5 points) in a game where they seriously needed his production against one of the top teams in the AAC. He missed his first five shots and didn't score until there was 5:05 left in the game. De'Vondre Perry's jumper with 8:15 left had stretched Temple's lead to 46-38 and Rose's bucket kept the lead at 50-43 and that coveted victory over a Top 25 team remained in its sight.

But there were several wasted chances for Temple.

The Owls were set to jog to the locker room with a five-point lead until a review confirmed that J.P Moorman II fouled Trevon Scott with .1 seconds left. Scott hit both to trim Temple's lead to 29-26 at the break.

The Bearcats had averaged 80.9 points a game and averaged eight 3s but were stymied by a Temple defense that helped force 13 turnovers in the first half and limited them to two 3s.

"I told them at halftime, `You don't put on your boxing gloves and it's going to get worse," Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said.

Big picture
Cincinnati: G Cane Broome (9.8 points) sat out with an injured ankle. ... The Bearcats finished with only three 3-pointers and shot only 39 percent overall from the field.

Temple: The Owls have started the same five players in every game. ... Temple shot 27 percent in the second half. ... Temple has a streak of 10 straight seasons with a win over a Top 25 team.

Ticket swap
Temple offered a ticket exchange for fans unable to attend the game because of inclement weather. There were maybe 1,000 fans at the Liacouras Center.

Up next
Cincinnati returns home to play against SMU on Sunday.

The Owls play two straight on the road, starting Sunday against UFC and Jan. 10 at SMU.

Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow

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Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow

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Whether it was simply coachspeak or the dawning realization that his team now has only one entry point into the NCAA Tournament, Fran Dunphy made a short but forceful declaration following Temple’s 80-59 loss to Houston on Sunday.

“We’ve got to win every game we play from here on in,” the Owls head coach said. “That’s the only thing we can do.”

Indeed, at this point, anything short of a perfect run through the American Athletic Conference tournament — which begins on March 8th following the Owls’ final three regular-season games — will likely relegate Temple to the NIT or worse.

The Cougars (21-5, 11-3 American) made sure of that by completely dominating the Owls (15-12 7-8) on their home court to suck the life out of the Liacouras Center — and Temple’s fading NCAA hopes.

“We never let them breathe,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. 

Houston has now won five straight to join nationally ranked Wichita State and Cincinnati atop the conference, making it increasingly likely that only those three squads will represent the American at the Big Dance. 

Temple, despite a conference record hovering around .500, had been making a nice push to join the party thanks to a potent strength of schedule, a couple of impressive November non-conference wins over Auburn and Clemson, and a recent five-game winning streak that included an overtime upset of Wichita State.

But after losing to the Shockers in a rematch on Thursday, the Owls likely needed to win out and then win at least a couple of more games in the AAC tournament to have a realistic shot of an at-large NCAA berth.

Houston ruined that by scoring the game’s first 15 points and never taking its foot off the gas from there en route to Sunday’s lopsided win.

“I think we came out really flat,” said Nate Pierre-Louis, who led the Owls with 13 points after watching the poor start from the bench. “I think we came out underestimating them. And they came out guns blazing, making everything. If we want to push forward, we can’t start out like that at all.”

Dunphy, who could be feeling some heat if Temple misses the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years, had a hard time explaining what went wrong. But he didn’t make excuses, whether it was the team having trouble with its charter flight leaving Wichita (“You figure it out, suck it up and do a better job”) or bouncing back in general from an emotionally draining game there (“[Houston] had a great win at home against Cincinnati, so they were probably more susceptible to a letdown than we were”).

He also didn’t hide from the fact that there wasn’t enough effort from his players.

“We were a step slow all day long,” Dunphy said. “We had decent rest, we worked hard enough, [assistant coach] Chris Clark had us very well prepared for the x-and-o piece. We were just slow all day.”

In no way was that more magnified than in Houston’s 53-22 rebounding advantage, including a 17-5 edge on the offensive end. The Cougars' 53 rebounds matched a Liacouras Center record.

When asked about that, Sampson pointed out that he recently learned his team was among the shortest in the nation. Clearly, though, their hunger makes up for that fact.

“I guess we’re short but it never crossed my mind that it mattered,” the Houston coach said. “What’s that old saying? If size were important, what happened to the dinosaurs?”

Dunphy had a less philosophical (and probably more scientifically accurate) approach to the rebounding discrepancy.

“We were just not disciplined enough on the rebounding side,” the Temple coach said. “They played very well, and obviously we didn’t play very well at all.”

Sadly for Temple fans, the Owls have had a few games this year when they didn’t play well. They’ve also had games where they’ve looked like world-beaters, making this a particularly maddening season.

So whether the Owls close the regular season strong and make a run in the conference tournament or crash out in the first round is anyone’s guess, really. But even after Sunday’s brutal loss, sophomore Quinton Rose forecasted some optimism as the up-and-down 2017-18 campaign winds down.

“I think we’re at our best when we have our backs against the wall,” said Rose, who scored 13 on Sunday. “So I have no doubt we can make a good run."

Temple flops in biggest game of season

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Temple flops in biggest game of season

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In its biggest game of the season, Temple had its biggest flop.

With their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes dangling over a precipice, the Owls were smoked by visiting Houston, 80-59, on Sunday at the Liacouras Center.

Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis scored 13 points apiece for Temple (15-12, 7-8 American), which had won seven of its last nine coming in with the only losses in that stretch to nationally ranked teams (Wichita State, Cincinnati) on the road.

Corey Davis Jr. had a game-high 20 points for Houston (21-5, 11-3), which has now won five straight, including a massive win over No. 5 Cincinnati on Thursday, and is challenging the Bearcats and Shockers for the league title.

• It sounds cliché but Houston just seemed to want it more, outhustling Temple to loose balls and dominating on the glass by a ridiculous 53-22 margin. Not surprisingly, there were smatterings of boos from Temple fans when the final horn sounded.

• Considering the urgency of the game, Temple was very flat from the start with Houston’s Davis hitting two tough three-pointers to spark an 8-0 start for the visitors.

• The Cougars built their lead to 15-0 as Temple fans, standing until the Owls scored their first basket, grew impatient and implored head coach Fran Dunphy to change the lineup.

• Finally, Temple got on the scoreboard when Obi Enechionyia threw down a big dunk with 13:36 left in the first half. But fittingly, Davis hit a jumper just moments later and the red-hot Cougars kept their foot on the gas to increase their lead to 34-11 with 7:30 left.

• Houston led by a staggering 24 points at the final media timeout of the first half and took a 21-point lead into halftime after an Enechionyia three-pointer in the final seconds.

• Temple shot 31 percent in the first half, and it seemed even uglier with several of the Owls’ shots missing the rim entirely.

• The biggest first-half difference was rebounding as Houston held a 31-9 advantage and an 11-1 edge on the offensive boards. On one especially excruciating possession for Temple, Houston got a couple of offensive rebounds before Davis drilled a three right in front of the Temple bench.

• With Temple showing a little more life to start the second half, the Cougars promptly sucked it back out of them with star senior Rob Gray hitting a big three to put them up 47-24 with 16 minutes left.

• With 13 minutes left, the Cougars had doubled up Temple’s score (54-27), and then went ahead 59-27 on Davis’ sixth three-pointer of the game. Temple fans had very little cheer for from there. Houston’s a good team but it’s not easy to explain how the surging Owls could lose a game this badly to anyone at home.

• Houston actually had far more turnovers than Temple, 17-10.

• Temple lost at Houston, 76-73, back in December, and is now 2-7 all-time vs. the Cougars, including a 1-4 mark in Philadelphia.

• Houston is chasing just its second NCAA Tournament berth since 1992 and its first since 2010. The Owls, meanwhile, are in danger of missing two straight Big Dances for just the second time since Fran Dunphy took over in 2006. Thanks in large part to a great strength of schedule and their recent hot streak, the Owls were on Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out” in ESPN’s bracketology but this loss — and a sub-.500 conference mark — will certainly drop them even further off the bubble.

• The best celebration of the day came in honor of Hooter the Owl’s birthday, with mascots from around the city coming to the Liacouras Center to pay their respects. But those vibes didn’t extend to the game as Temple dropped to 12-1 all-time on its mascot’s birthday.

• Temple plays its final home game next Sunday vs. UCF before closing the regular season with road games at UConn and Tulsa. But even if they win out, the Owls still likely need to win the American Athletic Conference tournament to get into the NCAAs.