PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/17/2012 – The Temple Owls did win the game by a
wide margin, but the game was more of a struggle than the final score indicated. Temple pulled away late in the game to get a 63 – 46 win over the Alcorn State Braves at the Liacouris Center in the opening contest of the Chevrolet Gotham Classic. Temple Coach Fran Dunphy felt the Cherry and White did not and has not played a consistent offensive game. The Owls had to rely on the defensive end of the floor to secure the victory.
“It was going to come down to us making stops which it always is,” said Dunphy. “We were not good on offense, turned it over 15 times, and did not shoot it great. We haven’t found a great rhythm other than the second half at Villanova. We haven’t had a good rhythm to our game.”
Leading 36 – 33 with 15:43 remaining in the second half, the Temple defense put the clamps on the Alcorn State offense. The Owls put together a 14 – 2 run to get a 50 – 35 lead at the 8:08 mark. The Braves were held to one field goal in over seven and a half minutes of play. Alcorn State did cut the gap to single digits at 50 – 42, but Temple would close the game scoring 13 of the final 17 points of the contest.
When Temple scored their 50th point of the game, it came on a three-pointer by Senior Guard Khalif Wyatt. It was the 1,000th point of his career and made Wyatt the 49th player in school history to reach that plateau. Wyatt scored a game-high 20 points. He views the milestone as a team effort.
“It’s been a long process,” said Wyatt. “I want to thank all of my teammates I’ve had since I got here, and all of my coaches. I’m grateful for all of them. The accomplishment means a lot to me, and I want to thank everyone who helped me get it.”
Both teams took 50 shots in the game. Temple made 20 (40%) while Alcorn State made 17 (34%). Both teams had 35 rebounds, 12 offensive and 23 defensive. The widest spread on the stat line came at the foul line where the Owls went 18 for 26. The Braves were forced to foul at the end of the game. Senior forward Scootie Randall scored 11 points and had a game best 9 rebounds. Senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson also scored 11 points. Forward Jake O’Brien was the fourth Owl player to post double figures with 10 points.
Temple moves on to host Canisius in the next tournament game. The 8 – 1 Owls will meet top-ranked Syracuse on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The Cherry and White need to play a more consistent game. Wyatt believes the choppy schedule to this point is a part of the reason why the rhythm is not there right now, but once the Owls move into Atlantic 10 play their play will get better.
“We definitely are not playing our best basketball right now,” said Wyatt. “We’re practicing every day and getting more chemistry every day. As the season goes on I see us getting better and better. Eventually, we will get into our groove.”
“Once we get into the meat of our schedule and play two, three games a week it will be good for us.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian