Temple Owls

Obi Enechionyia lifts Temple to Charleston Classic final

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Obi Enechionyia lifts Temple to Charleston Classic final

BOX SCORE

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Obi Enechionyia felt Temple was itching to get going at the Charleston Classic. That been evident in its run to the tournament finals.

Enechionyia had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Owls into the tournament title game with an 88-74 victory over the Tigers. Temple's season-opening game was a win over Old Dominion here Thursday as they eased into a long starting stretch that doesn't see them play a home game until Wisconsin on Dec. 6.

"I think it showed that we're ready to play in both games," Enechionyia said. "It wasn't a big deal to us, but I think it kind of helped us."

Temple (2-0) pulled away late from their Southeastern Conference opponent to move back into its second Charleston finals. And they may get the chance to avenge a loss to Clemson in that 2008 championship game -- the Clemson Tigers face Hofstra for the other spot in Sunday night's title contest.

"It's exciting," Enechionyia said. "It's like last year in the preseason NIT."

That's where Temple won the NIT Season Tip-Off event with an 81-77 victory over West Virginia in 2016. Temple coach Fran Dunphy hopes his team can channel those good experiences from last year this time around.

"Three games in four days, that's a lot of basketball," he said. "We need some rest."

Auburn will play the Hofstra-Clemson loser Sunday -- the tournament takes a college football break Saturday -- for third place.

Temple trailed the Tigers (2-1) on Jared Harper's basket with 10:17 to go. Shizz Alston Jr. hit a 3-pointer to put the Owls back in front -- the ball hit off the rim, bounded high in the air before falling through -- and Enechionyia gave them the lead for good with a pair of foul shots moments later. Auburn made one last charge when Mustapha Heron's 3 pulled the Tigers to 70-67. But Quinton Rose followed with a 3-pointer and Auburn never caught up.

Rose finished with 19 points off five 3-pointers. Alston had 18 points, 11 in the second half, for Temple.

Anfernee McLemore led Auburn with 19 points, but he also picked up a technical at a crucial juncture. His foul against Temple came from holding onto the rim for too long after a dunk and allowed Temple to quickly move back in front on Alston's two foul shots when McLemore had tied things at 48-all.

McLemore said the players ran out of gas down the stretch. "We just have to stay focused," he said. "We had mental lapses in the second half."

It was Enechionyia's first double-double of the season and fourth of his career.

The takeaway
Auburn: When the Tigers show up cold from the outside, it could be a long game. Auburn hit just 3 of 18 3-pointers in the opening half and the Tigers were generally off target throughout the first 20 minutes. Mustapha Heron was 1 of 9 including 0 of 4 from behind the arc. DeSean Murray and Bryce Brown were each 1 of 7. The numbers improved some in the second half (5 of 15 from three), but Tigers will have to find a better balance if they hope to compete in the Southeastern Conference.

Temple: The Owls were continually caught flat-footed by Auburn's guards, who found ways to get to the basket early -- even if the Tigers could not find the basket. Temple picked up its defense in the second half to pull away from the Tigers.

Tech problems
Auburn has picked up four technical fouls in two games.

Threes a plenty
Neither team was particularly crisp from long range. Temple hit 10 of 26 3-pointers (38.6 percent) while Auburn finished just 8 of 33 from behind the arc (24.8 percent). "We could've gotten better looks," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "We didn't get to the foul line in the second half which was real key."

Up next
Auburn will play the Clemson-Hofstra loser on Sunday for third place.

Temple will face either Clemson or Hofstra for the tournament championship Sunday night. 

Temple can't stop nation's longest winning streak, loses to No. 9 UCF in shootout

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Temple can't stop nation's longest winning streak, loses to No. 9 UCF in shootout

BOX SCORE

ORLANDO, Fla. — McKenzie Milton threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 9 UCF hold off Temple 52-40 and extend the nation's longest winning streak to 21 games Thursday night.

Taj McGowan scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards, the latter finishing a long drive that put the Knights (8-0, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) up by nine points after Temple (5-4, 4-1) nearly rallied to tie it.

Milton, returning to the lineup after missing a game with an undisclosed injury, finished 17 of 33 with one interception. Dredrick Snelson scored on a 19-yard reception and Michael Colubiale had TD catches of 9 and 19 yards to ensure the Knights gained sole possession of first place in the AAC East Division.

Anthony Russo completed 31 of 52 passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns for Temple, which had a three-game winning streak snapped despite gaining 670 yards on a night the teams combined to gain over 1,300 yards.

Ventell Bryant scored on receptions of 15 and 8 yards for the Owls. Russo also threw to Branden Mack and Randle Jones while building a 34-28 halftime that lasted less than a minute into the third quarter.

UCF took a 42-34 lead into the fourth quarter and stopped a potential tying two-point conversion before pulling away for good.

In addition to staying on top of the East Division standings, UCF remained on course to be part of the discussion about which teams deserve to be part of the College Football Playoff in December.

The Knights, denied a spot in the four-team playoff field a year ago despite finishing as the only undefeated team in the FBS, were 12th in the initial CFP rankings released this week.

Lots of offense
In the first half alone, the teams combined for 808 yards — 510 passing and 298 rushing — with Russo throwing for 277 and three TDs and Milton countering with 233 yards and two TDs. Both quarterbacks had a rushing TD in the second quarter, Russo scoring on a 5-yard run on a fake field goal play.

The takeaway
Temple: The Owls are 5-2 since Russo took over at quarterback following losses to Villanova and Buffalo to begin the season. Armstead returned from missing two games with an ankle injury, immediately making his presence felt with a 33-yard burst on the first play from scrimmage. The senior running back finished with 142 yards on 27 carries.

UCF: Milton had another big night, however the Knights kept the nation's longest winning streak alive by running for 318 yards and doing a good job defensively of keeping Temple out of the end zone in the second half.

Poll implications
One of the knocks on UCF's success is the Knights' strength of schedule. Temple is the only team the defending AAC champions have beaten this season that currently has a winning record.

Up next
Temple: at Houston, Nov. 10

UCF: Remain home vs. Navy, Nov. 10

Temple 24, No. 20 Cincinnati 17 (OT): Owls score homecoming win

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Temple 24, No. 20 Cincinnati 17 (OT): Owls score homecoming win

BOX SCORE

After throwing three interceptions, Temple's Anthony Russo came through down the stretch and the Owls handed one of the most surprising teams in the country its first loss.

Russo threw a tying, 20-yard touchdown pass with 49 second left to Brandon Mack, and then a 25-yard TD to Isaiah Wright in overtime as Temple beat No. 20 Cincinnati 24-17 on Saturday.

Russo was 20 for 41 for 237 yards passing, with three touchdown passes and three picks for the Owls (5-3, 4-0 American). He led a seven-play, 75-yard drive in the closing minutes to tie the game with the TD to Mack.

"We just didn't quit," Russo said. "I think that's a big step for our team and something we're going to build on."

Cincinnati (6-1, 2-1) got a first down on its first play of overtime, but an errant snap behind quarterback Desmond Ridder left the Bearcats with second-and-21 and a personal foul pushed them even further back. Ridder was intercepted on third-and-36 by Shaun Bradley to end the game.

Temple receiver Randall Jones caught five passes for 67 yards and scored a touchdown.

"They just took shots," Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. "They made some plays down the field and you have to give them some credit."

The Bearcats, coming off a 4-8 season, were off to their best start since 2009.

"You can't get overwhelmed with being 6-0 and forget about the things that got you there," Fickell said. "This is an opportunity for us to quit worrying about the undefeated, the rankings and really kind of go back to work."

Cincinnati's Michael Warren II and Charles McClelland combined for 202 yards on the ground and the Bearcats dominated the middle quarters after falling behind 10-0.

McClelland's 42-yard dash with 6:09 left in the third quarter broke a 10-10 tie and gave the Bearcats their first lead. Warren had 132 yards on 25 carries and scored a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Ridder was 14 for 33 for 111 yards.

"We went at them and we just kept chipping away and chipping away," Collins said. "The guys did a great job when it mattered."

The Bearcats picked off Russo twice in the final six minutes, but Temple's defense kept holding and giving the offense a chance. Temple got the ball back after a Cincinnati punt with 2:37 to play and Russo took over from there for a tying drive.

"You could sense and feel a little bit of that going down the stretch there," Fickell said. "Defensively, you play so well for so long and something has to give down the stretch."

The takeaway
Cincinnati: After turning the ball over twice in the first half, the Bearcats' defense was dominant before Temple's final drive. Normally a strong dual-threat option, Desmond Ridder struggled with Temple's pressure and ran for only nine yards.

"If you can't protect the quarterback, it's going to be a long day," Fickell said.

Temple: Two short fields set up a 10-0 Owls lead, but the offense really struggled to find its footing in the second and third quarters. Temple's defense forced enough pressure to get the ball back in its offense's hands and keep the game alive.

Offensively we started fast, sputtered in the middle, and then when it counted the came up huge," Collins said. "When it mattered most, the guys on this team stepped up and made plays."

Missing the mark
Cincinnati kicker Cole Smith converted just one of his four field-goal attempts. The four tries were more than the three he'd attempted all season entering Saturday.

One of Smith's misses, though, was a bit peculiar. On a fourth down with 1:46 remaining in the first half, Temple called timeout to stop the clock. There was also a television timeout.

The Bearcats snapped the ball after the timeout and Smith's kick split the uprights, but the officials ruled the ball had not been marked for play out of the television timeout. Moments later, Smith missed wide right.

"There is no explanation for it," Fickell said.

Up next
Cincinnati: at SMU on Saturday

Temple: at UCF on Thursday, November 1.