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.

Celebrating Temple upset Kansas and a sad friend was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

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Celebrating Temple upset Kansas and a sad friend was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

I don’t go to a lot of games. I never did. I can’t even think of the last postseason game I saw live, which accounts for many of these strolls down memory lane. 

So while reading some of my colleagues write about the best game they’ve ever been to, I couldn’t really relate. I remember where I was when DeSean Jackson returned that punt or when Vince Carter’s baseline jumper bounced off the rim, but it wasn’t in the building to witness it.

So here it is. The best game I ever saw live was in December of 2014. I was a couple years out of college and my alma mater Temple University was hosting Kansas. A friend of mine is a gigantic Kansas fan and got tickets to see his beloved Jayhawks make light work of the Owls. He invited me and, with extremely low expectations, I joined him. 

Kansas, like always, was a top-10 team at the time. The Owls were 7-4. No. 4 Duke and No. 7 Villanova had housed Temple earlier in the season, each loss by 20 points. My friend, along with more than half of the crowd wearing blue, was treating this like an exhibition game. It was a chance to see Frank Mason and Kelly Oubre and Perry Ellis (in what I believe was his seventh season at Kansas) put on a show.

They did not.

Temple scored the first basket and never looked back. A Will Cummings three-pointer made it 12-2 before we could take off our coats. Midway through the first half, Devin Coleman came up with a steal leading to a Jaylen Bond dunk and it was 22-10. Timeout Kansas. Basketball is a game of runs and the tide can turn quickly, especially at the college level, so the Kansas crowd remained calm.  My friend was annoyed by his team’s start but panic had yet to set in.

I was all smiles. This was fun.

Temple took a 10-point lead into the half. That was nothing for a blue-blooded squad like KU. In the second half, the better team will emerge, my friend mumbled to himself.

But the second half was much more of the same. Temple was hitting everything and by the under-12 timeout the lead had swelled to 17. The Owls shot 58 percent from the field, compared to an abysmal 32 percent by Kansas. A few minutes later, Jesse Morgan knocked down a three and it was Temple, yes Temple, who held a 20-point lead. Timeout Kansas.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of the game. I spent most of the night watching the joy evaporate from my friend’s face and taunting the surrounding Kansas fans looking on in disgust. The final seconds ticked away on a 77-52 blowout and the student section stormed the court. Did I join it? You bet I did. I remember being on the court, surrounded by kids acting like it was time to cut down the nets. And I remember looking to the section where we were sitting and seeing my poor friend who just wanted to go home, standing alone looking so very sad. It was the best.

Maybe my behavior was petty at the time and maybe reliving it now is too. But hey, I don’t go to a lot of games.

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Turnovers, poor 3-point shooting hurt Temple in loss to Missouri

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Turnovers, poor 3-point shooting hurt Temple in loss to Missouri

BOX SCORE 

PHILADELPHIA — For Dru Smith and Missouri, it’s been hard not to dwell on a stunning home loss to Charleston Southern earlier this week.

Only thing to do was take it out on the next team on the schedule.

Javon Pickett scored a season-high 16 points off the bench and Missouri snapped a three-game losing streak, beating Temple 64-54 on Saturday night.

Smith added 12 points and six rebounds for the visiting Tigers (5-4), whose loss to Charleston Southern on Tuesday was one of the worst of coach Cuonzo Martin’s tenure.

“Obviously it’s been on our minds,” Smith said. “It’s something we had to learn from. We had to move on. There’s a lot of season left in front of us. I think we did a good job today using that as fuel and coming out and playing much better.”

Quinton Rose led the way for Temple (6-2) with 16 points, 10 of which came in the first half. The Owls committed a season-high 19 turnovers, including an overthrown pass in transition with a minute to go to dash any comeback hopes. They also shot 2 for 21 from 3-point range.

“They didn’t really pressure us; we were just careless with the ball,” Rose said. “Maybe it is a lack of focus. We’ll figure it out.”

Trailing by six early in the second half, the Owls reeled off the next 12 points to take their first lead since they were up 4-2. The run began with a Monty Scott 3-pointer and included a Jake Forrester dunk that electrified a previously frustrated Liacouras Center crowd.

Forrester, an Indiana transfer who had to sit out the first four games until getting cleared to play by the NCAA, finished with 11 points in his first home game for the Owls.

Pickett helped Missouri fight back to tie the game at 47-47 with eight minutes remaining, and the Tigers took the lead 53-52 on a Jeremiah Tillman transition dunk with four minutes to go. Mark Smith’s 3-pointer put the Tigers ahead 57-52 with 2:53 left, and Xavier Pinson helped close out the win with a driving layup in the final minute.

The Tigers outscored the Owls 15-2 over the final six-and-a-half minutes.

“I think we’re as good as any team in the SEC,” Martin said. “But you have to do it on the floor every night. It’s one thing for me to believe it. They have to understand and believe it. And this was a great win for us against a very talented team.”

Temple had more turnovers (11) than made field goals (eight) in the first half to fall behind 33-27 at halftime. No one on the Owls besides Rose scored until Forrester hit a free throw more than eight minutes into the contest.

Can't open the Pickett fence 

Martin credited Pickett for putting the defensive clamps on Rose, Temple’s top scorer, in the second half.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he spends 10 years in the NBA,” the Missouri coach said of Rose. “And I thought Javon really embraced that challenge. He’s not an easy guy to defend.”

Martin also praised the energy Pickett brings off the bench, which is a role the sophomore says has helped him.

“I feel more relaxed,” said Pickett, who started 31 games as a freshman last season. “Coach all the time is telling me to be myself. I feel like I’m starting to be myself more.”

Big picture

Missouri: The Tigers avoided the slow starts that had been plaguing them, leading for most of the first half before staging their winning rally midway through the second half. They also scored a measure of revenge on an Owls squad that beat them in a thriller last year at Mizzou Arena, 79-77.

Temple: Despite Saturday’s setback, the Owls are showing promise under first-year coach Aaron McKie, who replaced Fran Dunphy. Their only losses have come to power conference teams, No. 3 Maryland and now Missouri, while they’ve beaten another Southeastern Conference squad, Texas A&M, and also Southern California on the road.

Up next 

Missouri: The Tigers return home to face Southern Illinois on Dec. 15.

Temple: The Owls host Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday in one of Philadelphia’s most intense rivalry games.