Temple set for battle with 'great' Memphis QB Paxton Lynch


Temple set for battle with 'great' Memphis QB Paxton Lynch

The last time Temple faced a projected NFL first-round quarterback, the Owls had 10 sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown and held Penn State to 10 points.

On Saturday afternoon, TU (8-2, 5-1) kicks off against Memphis (8-2, 4-2) in an important American Athletic Conference game at Lincoln Financial Field.

With that comes the opportunity to face another estimated Sunday quarterback in the Tigers' Paxton Lynch.

"That's cool. They said the same thing about (Christian) Hackenberg," linebacker Avery Williams said Tuesday. "He is a great quarterback. We're going to face great quarterbacks.

"This is Division I football — everyone's a great quarterback. I love his style. He's got speed, a big arm, big body. We're going to prepare for him like we prepare for anybody else."

Temple is coming off its second loss in three games, as South Florida dominated the Owls last Friday night, 44-23. It was the second straight week TU allowed 40 or more points.

The Bulls gashed TU for 556 yards of total offense and 326 rushing yards. USF QB Quinton Flowers beat the Owls with his arm and legs, while running back Marlon Mack ran for 230 yards.

"It was painful, man," Williams said. "But it was all on us. It was my fault in general. It was my fault as a leader. I should have been more detailed. I should have been more careful.

"On special teams, I should have made more plays. I should have got the ball out. I should have done that more. I put it on me."

One constant this season on North Broad is the what's next mentality but for Williams, he said it's important to keep the USF loss in the back of his mind this week.

"You don't put it in the past," he said. "You think about it. You think about how much that (loss) hurt and you use that to influence you in the next game."

Playing against NFL quarterbacks is nothing new to this Temple defense, as this group has faced Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater and Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Bridgewater completed 25 of 35 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns against the Owls while at Louisville on Oct. 5, 2013. On Nov. 16, 2013, Bortles threw for 404 yards and four TDs at Central Florida.

Both of those came against a young, 2-10 Temple team. This is a veteran Owls defense going up against Lynch.

And facing Lynch is nothing new, either, as Saturday's meeting will be the third time the Owls will see the 6-foot-7, 245-pound signal caller.

Still, the junior QB has Temple head coach Matt Rhule's attention.

"He's the next great American Conference first-round quarterback," Rhule said.

Lynch has completed 68.7 percent of his passes this season for 3,292 yards, 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He's also ran for 235 yards on 73 carries for two scores.

He's thrown for more than 300 yards in eight of Memphis' 10 games and more than 400 yards in two games. He was 20 of 31 for 278-2-1 in a 35-34 loss against Houston.

"He's a first-round pick," Rhule said. "He's not a pure runner but he runs enough. He beat us last year. Any time you play a great quarterback, it comes down to you got to contain him.

"With Quinton Flowers, we couldn't contain him with his feet and with his arm. And with Paxton, he's going to sit there. He can throw the ball 70 yards. He can run.

"He's going to be one of those guys on the stage holding a jersey in the NFL draft. He's that good of a player."

In Memphis' 16-13 win over the Owls last season at the Linc, Lynch was 21 of 28 for 230 yards and a touchdown.

Temple also faced Lynch as a freshman, as Lynch threw for 162 yards and a TD in Memphis' 41-21 loss to TU in 2013.

What have the Owls learned from film?

"We see that he definitely got better," cornerback Sean Chandler said. "He's more confident I can see. He got a little bit more swag to him, too. You can tell by the way he dresses."

The Owls can clinch the American east division again this week with a win and a USF loss to Cincinnati on Friday. When they take the field Saturday, they'll know what they'll have to do.

Is Temple going to be paying much attention to the Bulls' game against Cincy?

"We focused on us, man," Williams said. "That's how it's been this whole season. We're focused on us. We're going to keep focus on us. We're not going to change the process."

Saint Joseph's comeback bid comes up short vs. Florida

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Saint Joseph's comeback bid comes up short vs. Florida

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Keyontae Johnson saw Florida’s big lead shrink to almost nothing in the final minute. He made sure his teammates didn’t let this one get away from the Gators.

Johnson had a career-high 22 points to lead the Gators to a 70-62 victory over Saint Joseph’s at the Charleston Classic, playing without ejected leading scorer Kerry Blackshear Jr. on Thursday. Not that it came easily as Florida (3-2) saw its 18-point lead cut to 64-62 in the final minute.

“We just communicated, told everyone to stay together,” Johnson said. “We stayed locked in.”

The focus proved the difference as Florida hit six foul shots down the stretch while Saint Joseph’s missed two shots and committed a pair of turnovers.

“Down the stretch, I thought we showed a tremendous toughness,” Florida coach Mike White said.

The Gators needed it with Blackshear missing almost all of the game. He played three minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls. Then he was thrown out when he was battling underneath and his elbow looked like it hit Saint Joseph’s guard Taylor Funk. Blackshear, who came in averaging 14 points and 12 boards, was called for a flagrant two foul and sent off the court.

Blackshear’s departure seemed to energize the Hawks (2-3), who trailed 43-27 when the Florida star left the court. That’s when St. Joseph’s went on a 29-16 spurt to cut it to three points on Funk’s basket with six minutes left.

But Johnson followed with a basket and Andrew Nembhard made another to extend the lead.

St. Joseph’s had one last charge, slicing things to 64-62 on Ryan Daly’s layup in the final minute. The Hawks had several chances to tighten things, but could not. “We’re not going to go down easy,” Daly said.

Florida will take on Miami here Friday for a spot in the Charleston Classic finals.

The Hawks face Missouri State on Friday.

Johnson also had a game-high 12 rebounds. Nembhard added 16 points.

Florida took control quickly and appeared to make this a runaway as Noah Locke had two 3-pointers and Nembhard also hit one from behind the arc as the Gators went ahead 11-2 less than two minutes in and steadily built its lead.

St. Joseph’s had hit 34 first-half 3s combined its first four games. It made just one of its 14 long-range attempts this time as it fell behind.

Daly led the Hawks with 25 points.

Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

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Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

CONWAY, S.C. -- It’s been awhile since No. 17 Villanova shot this well from long range. Cole Swider has never scored like this.

Swider scored a career-high 26 points with six 3-pointers, and the Wildcats routed Middle Tennessee 98-69 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Collin Gillespie added 16 points and hit four 3s, Justin Moore finished with 15 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 11 rebounds to help Villanova (3-1) - which never trailed, led by 35 and shot 57% while winning its second straight following a 25-point loss at No. 10 Ohio State.

And yet, another number in the box score caught coach Jay Wright’s eye - Swider’s seven rebounds.

“He’s more than just a shooter,” Wright said.

And the Wildcats have plenty of those. They made 18 3s - one shy of the school record, and their most since they also had 18 in a victory over Kansas at the 2018 Final Four.

“They have elite size with great shooters,” Middle Tennessee coach Nick McDevitt said, “and any short close-out or decent close-out results in three points.”

Eleven of them came during a first-half barrage that pushed the lead well into the 20s. Swider hit his fifth 3 from the corner shortly before the buzzer to put the Wildcats up 53-28 at halftime.

Saddiq Bey then took the lead to 30 with a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half.

Donovan Sims scored 18 points and C.J. Jones had 16 for the Blue Raiders (3-2). Leading scorer Antonio Green, averaging 23.5 points going into the game, finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting while dealing with foul trouble.

“They’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts, so they were switching just to never let him see space,” McDevitt said.