Temple Owls

Temple jumps all over UConn for convincing AAC win

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Temple jumps all over UConn for convincing AAC win

BOX SCORE

A fast start helped Temple rout UConn.

Shizz Alston Jr. had 18 points and Nate Pierre-Louis scored 12 of his 17 points in Temple's dominating first half to lead the Owls to an 81-63 victory over UConn on Wednesday.

Justyn Hamilton added 13 points for the Owls (17-6, 7-3 American Athletic Conference).

Temple made its first six shots and just kept on hitting. The Owls sank 10 of 11 to take a 25-10 lead, 13 of 16 to go in front 33-14 and entered the break ahead 46-20, setting a season-high for points in the first half.

"The hoop was looking real big for us early," Alston said. "A lot of different guys were scoring."

Temple made 18 of 29 field goals and 5 of 11 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

"It looks like you know what you're doing when you make shots," Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. "Everybody participated. It looked like it was our night."

The Huskies never got close in the second half, and the most excitement came with 16:20 remaining when Pierre-Louis finished a breakaway with a windmill dunk.

Josh Carlton and Christian Vital had 18 points apiece to pace UConn (13-10, 4-6).

Huskies coach Danny Hurley bemoaned his team's play at the outset.

"We just were not ready to go," Hurley said. "They were able to get comfortable and confident."

"If we were a really good team, we'd get off to better starts," Hurley added. "But we're not a really good team. We got our butts kicked by a team that outclassed us today."

Big picture

UConn: The Huskies are continuing their rebuild under first-year coach Hurley. If Adams is out for any substantial time, it will hurt in the near term. However, the opportunity given to younger backcourt players could prove beneficial in the long term.

Temple: With eight regular-season games remaining, the Owls are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament in Dunphy's final season at the helm. They will have to avoid hiccups in conference play, with a season-ending home game against Central Florida on March 9 looming as a potentially important contest should Temple continue winning.

Adams injured

The Huskies lost leading scorer Jalen Adams for the game to a left knee injury 5:54 into the contest when Temple's J.P. Moorman II fell on Adams' leg in a scramble near the basket. Adams tried to walk to the bench but couldn't put pressure on his leg and had to be helped to the locker room by a teammate.

Adams, who entered averaging 17.7 points per game, returned to the court after being benched for insubordination by Hurley for the final 18 minutes of the Huskies' 76-52 victory over East Carolina on Sunday.

Hurley said the injury was to Adams' MCL, but the coach didn't know the severity of it. Adams will have an MRI on Thursday.

Road woes

UConn dropped to 0-5 in true road games.

Trainer's room

UConn: Alterique Gilbert missed his third straight contest with a shoulder injury. Gilbert, who started all 20 games before getting hurt and entered third on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg), had three surgeries on his shoulder that cost him all but nine games over his first two seasons.

Temple: The Owls played without leading rebounder Ernest Aflakpui, who sat as a precaution because of a left knee injury. A 6-foot-10 senior, Aflakpui started every game this season entering Wednesday and is averaging 6.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. Dunphy said afterward that Aflakpui could have played if needed.

Up next

UConn: At Memphis Sunday.

Temple: At Tulsa Saturday.

The Fran Dunphy era ends as Temple falls to Belmont in First Four of NCAA Tournament

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The Fran Dunphy era ends as Temple falls to Belmont in First Four of NCAA Tournament

Updated: 1:31 a.m. 

DAYTON, Ohio — A few seconds were still left on the clock when Fran Dunphy headed to midcourt for his final postgame handshake, the outcome long decided. Belmont was simply too much for his Owls.

Nobody else in the NCAA Tournament is excited to face their efficient offense, either.

Kevin McClain scored 29 points and led the decisive second-half run as Belmont got its first NCAA Tournament win, pulling away to an 81-70 victory Tuesday night and ending Dunphy's career in the First Four.

The 11th-seeded Bruins (27-5) play Maryland on Thursday in the East Region.

"We belong in this tournament," said McClain, who finished two points shy of his career high. "You can see that."

Belmont got an at-large bid after losing to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title game. The Bruins showed the selection committee's faith was not misplaced, getting the breakthrough win on their eighth try.

"I think that they can play in this atmosphere and this is important," coach Rick Byrd said. "I didn't think many times we played well, or knew what we were in offensively, but they found a way to win. And you never play perfect, and I think they've got some toughness about them."

The loss sent Temple (23-10) into a transition. Dunphy is retiring after his 13th season at Temple, where he replaced John Chaney. Dunphy previously coached 17 seasons at Penn.

"The game of basketball has given me way more than I have given to it," Dunphy said.

He was hoping to coach another day, but Belmont's high-scoring offense pulled away at the end. Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 21 points.

"That team is smart," Alston said. "They only do what they're good at."

The Bruins entered the tournament second in the nation at 87.4 points per game. The Owls' aim was to slow the high-percentage offense just enough to give themselves a chance. Temple hung in during a first half that featured five lead changes and ended with Belmont ahead 37-31.

The Bruins pushed their lead to 11 points by hitting their first two shots in the second half. Alston, who led the American Athletic Conference at 19.7 points per game, hit three 3-pointers as the Owls surged ahead 50-46. Alston has been the Owls' catalyst, scoring at least 20 points in each of his last nine games.

McClain led a 16-3 run that put Belmont ahead to stay. McClain finished two points shy of his career high.

The Bruins' balanced offense had more than enough even though leading scorer Dylan Windler was held to five points on 2-of-7 shooting, matching his season low. Windler came in averaging 21.4 points.

Big picture 
Temple: Former Owls star Aaron McKie takes over for Dunphy. McKie is an assistant on Dunphy's staff. The Owls haven't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2013, when they beat N.C. State at Dayton before losing in the second round. They went 2-8 in eight appearances under Dunphy.

Belmont: The Bruins got only the second at-large NCAA Tournament bid in Ohio Valley Conference history, along with Middle Tennessee in 1987. They'd dropped their seven appearances when they had automatic bids.

Tourney history 
Temple's last NCAA Tournament win was in 2013 over N.C. State in Dayton. The Owls are 33-33 all-time in the tournament.

Belmont is making its eighth NCAA appearance since 2006. Its closest previous brush with a victory was a one-point loss to Duke in 2008.

Moose tracks
Six-foot-11 freshman center Nick Muszynski missed the OVC title game with a sprained left ankle, injured the previous game. Muszynski, whose nickname is Moose, started Tuesday and had 16 points and four rebounds. He wore a protective boot after the game.

"I thought he played terrific," Byrd said. "We just didn't know what we were going to get. Frankly, yesterday in practice he didn't look very good at all. But he really showed a lot today."

Philly fewer 
Philadelphia's Big 5 rivalry lost two of its longtime coaches Tuesday. In addition to Dunphy heading into retirement, Saint Joseph's fired Phil Martelli after his 24th season.

No stage fright 
The crowd at University of Dayton Arena was 11,874, the second-largest Belmont has played in front of this season. The high was 14,804 at Mackey Arena on Dec. 29, when Belmont lost to Purdue 73-62.

Up next 
Belmont heads to Jacksonville, Florida, for its game against Maryland.

NCAA Tournament: Temple makes the field, will face Belmont in Fran Dunphy's final dance

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NCAA Tournament: Temple makes the field, will face Belmont in Fran Dunphy's final dance

East Region | West Region | Midwest Region | South Region

Printable bracket with game times

WASHINGTON — Zion's path to the Final Four goes through the nation's capital.

Zion Williamson and Duke are headed to DC after they were awarded the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils sit atop the East Region, and their road to Minneapolis could include matchups with ACC rival Virginia Tech — which beat Duke without Zion — and Big Ten champion Michigan State.

But with Williamson and fellow freshman R.J. Barrett on their games, it's worth wondering who will be able to keep up with the ACC Tournament champions.

"It's tough to determine what our potential is," coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday. "I just want to have us play as good as we possibly can play right now. ... I hope we're in this tournament for a long time — that will make us even better."

Fifth-ranked Duke's top competition in the East comes from second-seeded Michigan State — which lost forward Kyle Ahrens to a left leg injury in the Big Ten title game Sunday — third-seeded LSU and fourth-seeded Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat Duke 77-72 on Feb. 26 after Williamson's foot injury against North Carolina.

The Blue Devils (29-5) haven't lost since Williamson returned, rolling through the ACC tourney by beating Syracuse, North Carolina and Florida State.

Krzyzewski hopes center Marques Bolden returns at some point in the tournament, which would give his team even more post depth to handle the likes of Michigan State if it came to that in the Elite Eight.

Duke opens the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, South Carolina, against the 16th-seeded winner of the First Four game between North Carolina Central and North Dakota State. A year after UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed when it beat Virginia, Krzyzewski knows not to overlook anyone.

"What I've learned along the way is not to be satisfied, not to rationalize," he said, "Because in these tough moments, rationalization can be the biggest opponent that you have at times."

Assuming Duke gets through the first round, eighth-seeded VCU or ninth-seeded UCF will be waiting. VCU star point guard Marcus Evans injured his left knee in the Atlantic 10 Tournament but is expected to return for the NCAA Tournament.

Here are some things to watch in the East Region:

Spartans' pride 

Michigan State held off rival Michigan to win the Big Ten Tournament and rolls into a matchup with 15th-seeded Bradley unsure of Ahrens' status. Guard Joshua Langford is already lost for the season, but the Spartans can still lean on Cassius Winston and strong rebounding. Michigan State has won 10 of its past 11 games and is one of the hottest teams in the country.

More injuries

Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson tweeted Sunday he's ready to return after missing the past 12 games with a left foot injury. Virginia Tech opens the tournament against Saint Louis, which won the Atlantic 10 Tournament to secure an automatic bid.

Bubble in

Temple was squarely on the bubble after losing to Wichita State in its first American Athletic Conference Tournament game Friday. But Fran Dunphy's Owls — four years after being the first team on the outside looking in — didn't have their bubble burst by Saint Louis' run or Oregon's Pac-12 Tournament championship. They will face Belmont on Tuesday for the right to be the 11th seed in the East and face sixth-seeded Maryland.

"I felt like we did enough to get in, but you never know in these situations, so we're just sitting and watching and hoping," Temple guard Shizz Alston Jr. said after losing in the AAC Tournament.

LSU without Wade 

LSU goes into the NCAA Tournament having won nine of 11, but coach Will Wade remains under an indefinite suspension after a report he had been caught on a wiretap talking with a person convicted of funneling money to the families of basketball recruits. LSU opens against 14th-seeded Yale, which beat Harvard to win the Ivy League Tournament.

Maryland, my Maryland 

If Maryland gets through Temple or Belmont and then LSU or Yale, it'll be playing a home game in the Sweet 16. Capital One Arena is just 12 miles from College Park and could be the site of rival factions of Duke and Maryland fans if the former ACC rivals both reach the third round.