Anthony Bellino (@bellino_anthony)
Temple struggled to shoot the ball and let Rice hang around before closing the game out in the Owls vs. Owls matchup.
Temple (2-0) held on to win by a score of 77-63 thanks to the first career double-doubles by sophomore Anthony Lee (12 pts, 13 boards) and senior Scootie Randall (16 pts, 12 boards). Coach Fran Dunphy said that Lee played terrific, talking about the free-throws he made down the stretch.
“He was terrific I thought, 13 rebounds and he played 28 minutes, that’s a lot of rebounds for Anthony,” Dunphy said. “He made some pretty tough baskets inside too, I was happy to see those last four foul shots go for him, cause he’s get fouled throughout the course of the year, that’s something he’s going to have to do for us.”
Temple’s guards struggled shooting the jump shot; senior guard Khalif Wyatt (17 pts.) was 5-of-12 from the field and Randall (16 pts.) was 5-of-16. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (8-of-10 ) and Lee (6-of-8) helped offset a Temple three-point attack that shot just 15.4 percent. Hollis-Jefferson had a game high 18 points for Temple, Randall said that Lee is going to contribute throughout the season and that tonight’s game was a big confidence booster for him when it comes to scoring.
“I think Rahlir can contribute a lot as we go along, I think tonight was a big night for him, it was a big confidence booster for him,” Randall said. “We just find ways to get him some shots and make him feel confidence and have confidence in what he do, he knocked down a lot of mid-range shots for us today so thats what’s going to open things up for us as scorers.”
It looked early as if Temple would coast to victory against Rice, but Rice was persistent and cut an 11 point lead just seven minutes into the game down to three at the half. Temple came into the season with expectations of one of the deepest teams in recent memory but in the first half got no points from their bench.
Temple struggled shooting the in the first half they 43.3 percent from the field, 18.8 from the three-point line and a dismal 45.5 from the free-throw line. The Owls shooting woes would continue in the second half, for the game they shot 41.3 percent from the field, 15.4 from behind the arch. The only bright spot Temple had shooting was their second-half free-throw percentage of 94.1 (16-17). Dunphy said the first-half free throw shooting was poor, but it improved in the second half.
“First halfI thought our foul-shooting was poor we go 5 for 11 and two of those were the front half of a one and one, puts a little more space between us and them,” Dunphy said. “The second half foul-shooting was good we were 16 of 17 and the one miss we had was arguably our best foul shooter [Wyatt] on the front half of a one and one.”
Rice was undersized and undermanned, but sophomore guard Julian DeBose’s 13 first-half points kept Rice in it, DeBose was limited to just two in the second half. Temple was led in the first by Hollis-Jefferson and Wyatt, as well as Lee who each had eight points in the first half. Senior Tamir Jackson helped keep Rice close in the second half, he finished the night with 17 points and 12 rebounds with 12 points and 5 rebounds in the second half. Dunphy said Rice did a good job running their offense and making Temple play to the tempo Rice wanted them to.
“I thought that they did a great job running their sets, controlling tempo in many ways we overplayed a little bit, probably too much on occasion,” Dunphy said. “I thought our second-half defense was better than our first half, we can certainly play better but I give Rice a lot of that credit that made us play poorly in some stretches.”
Temple got little production out of their bench in either half, the Owls bench didn’t score until senior Jake O’Brien‘s three-pointer with just over five minutes remaining. O’Brien’s basket and two free-throws from senior T.J. DiLeo would be the only scoring Temple’s bench would provide. Temple is said to have one of their deepest rosters in recent memory, but only had six different players score in the contest. Wyatt said that as the season goes on the bench will improve when it comes to scoring points.
“As the season goes on Pepper’s going to get a little more comfortable, he’s probably going to play more than he did today and were going to need him to,” Wyatt said. “Jake [O’Brien] was out there a little bit he missed some shots he usually makes, Jake’s a scorer though so when he’s out there he’s going to be looking to score,” Wyatt added. “T.J. does what T.J. does, he plays hard he had some open shots today he missed that he usually makes.”
Temple now has a week off before hosting Delware next sunday at the Liacouras Center. Wyatt fell hard after being fouled on a three-point attempt and talked about getting rest tomorrow and then working on improving before facing Delaware.
“We’re just going to get some rest tomorrow, then monday we just get ready for Delaware, they’re a good team, they got some good wins already,” Wyatt said. “We’re just going to watch the film of this game, I’m sure we’re going to watch a lot of it, learn as much as we can from this game and move on to Delaware and get ready for the task at hand.”