February 21, 2021 –
This was another hastily arranged game that turned into a hastily arranged series. The Temple Owls were to play Memphis, but that game was postponed. The USF Bulls were available and the American scheduled a two-game home and home series with this game at the Liacouras Center.
Temple guard Khalif Battle had a career-day scoring 32 points, but it was not enough as the Owls lost an 83 – 76 to USF. Battle made 9 of 22 shots and converted 4 of 10 from beyond the arc, and sank 10 of 12 from the free throw line. He also set a collegiate-best handing out 5 assists, and puled down 10 rebounds, one shy of his career-mark. This effort followed a 21-point game at Tulsa last week. Battle was just trying to be himself.
“Coach kept telling me to shoot the ball and stay aggressive offensively and defensively, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” said Battle.
But the Cherry and White needed more all around.
The game took a familiar trend. Temple fell behind, kept making charges at USF, but could not get the lead. Much like the last four games where the Owls have been in proximity, but could not get over the hump.
“In the last four games we dig a hole for ourselves,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie. “We fight back and get back but run out of steam from missed assignments and not blocking out. Stuff like that has been hurting us. Good teams find a way to win these games, nip and tuck and fight your way back. For every good thing se do, we seem to give it back.”
Hurting the Temple chances were turnovers and offensive rebounds.
The Owls committed 17 compared miscues compared to 7 by the Bulls, who stole the ball 7 times.
Off the offensive glass USF pulled down 15 while Temple got 10, which was a factor in allowing the Bulls to get 67 total shots to 50 by the Owls. Neither team shot the ball particularly well and the Cherry and White had a better percentage (22 of 50) for 44% while the visitors made 27 of 67 (40.3%). But turnovers and offensive boards deficits are a lethal combination to overcome when playing uphill.
“It’s been happening to us,” McKie said. “They got more attempts than we did. A lot of that is the extra possessions they’re getting. We’ve got to find a way to take those away, and take those things away early.’
Temple got to within a point on two free throws by Battle with 6:24 on the clock. USF went on a 10 – 4 run to reestablish control, then stayed in front by making just enough free throws. The Owls cut the gap to 4 twice in the last 30 seconds, but got no closer.
Jake Forrester and J.P. Moorman II contributed 10 points apiece for the Cherry and White. Team leading scorer Damian Dunn did not dress missing his second straight game due to injury.
Xavier Castenada led the Bulls (8 – 8, 4 – 6) in scoring getting 18. He hit 5 of 10 from the field, both his three-pointers, and sank all 6 foul shots. David Collins contributed 14 points, while Alexis Yenta scored 12 points and had a team-high 7 rebounds. Justin Brown got 4 offensive caroms.
The series continues at USF on Wednesday. Temple (4 – 10, 3 – 10) looks to reverse the trend, and Battle is optimistic the team will do just that.
“As a group we’ve got to keep battling,” Battle said. “The future is still bright for us. There’s plenty of time left to get things together. Games like this are going to happen. We’ll overcome things like this.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian