The Temple Owls got a much-needed win over another power-five team over the Wisconsin Badgers. The Owls took care of business in their home opener, at the Liacouras Center, with a 59-55 victory. Temple moves to an impressive (5-2) and Wisconsin falls to (4-6) on the season. This was the first home game yet the date is December 6th, so for Temple to have the resume they have, is truly phenomenal.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to Temple playing at Wisconsin on December 5th, 2015. The Owls lost 76-60 with a dominant performance by former Badger Nigel Hayes. The Kohl Center is one of the hardest places to play, especially for a freshman. That did not seem to faze now-junior guard Shizz Alston Jr, who at the time was a freshman. He scored a team-high 11 points and went (2-2) from three. This loss must have stuck into his mind as he had a heck of a performance in tonight’s game. He ended with 22 points and went (6-6) from the line. He set a school record with 52 consecutive free throws made dating back to December of 2016.
Here is Shizz Alston Jr expressing how much of an impact this won was tonight.
The Owls got off to a slow start through the first five minutes of the first half, but they got going once a key piece to the Badgers came out of the game. Ethan Happ, who was responsible for six points early to get the Badgers up 11-8 with 14:51 left in the half, went to the bench abruptly early on in the game. Temple went on a 11-7 run without this junior in the lineup. Shizz Alston JR helped this run with his 12 points in the first half.
A key player for the Wisconsin Badgers in the first half was Brad Davison as he hit a pair of three-pointers to really put all the momentum towards Wisconsin in the first half. Temple seemed like they were fighting to keep up with Wisconsin, making key errors not boxing out and not getting the rebounds.
With the game tied at 28, Temple had the ball for the last possession. Shizz Alston Jr hit a three to send us into halftime. It is always important to be the team with the upper hand or in a metaphor,” the last word” going into halftime.
Standout players by far for Temple in the first half were Shizz Alston Jr and Josh Brown and then for the Badgers Ethan Happ. Ethan Happ is going to be an NBA Draft pick as long as he keeps on putting on muscle and improving his range. There were so many times in this game that he was double teamed, yet he somehow had the presence of mind to get to the rim for an easy lay up. If it wasn’t a lay up if was a beautiful assist to the wide open guard for a three.
“I thought he had around eight assists the way he was passing out there, he is a fantastic player that can pass and finish whenever he pleases”, said by Temple Men’s Basketball coach Fran Dunphy.
The contest went back and fourth throughout most of the second half. Temple had a nice 6-0 run to make it 47-41 after a Damion Moore made a layup. This is as great of a lead that the Owls would have going forward as the Badgers always had an answer.
Ethan Happ once again put the team on his back and struck his own 6-0 run to make it tied 47-47 at the 8:17 mark. The game was looking shaky for the Owls when they were down 55-52 after an Aleem Ford offensive rebound with a putback layup.
A key change in momentum came from two key blocks by senior forward Obi Enechionyia. The first block was on Ethan Happ that led to a Quentin Rose free throw to tie it all up at 55-55 with 2:02 left in the game.
The exact same play as Ethan Happ went for the same spin move and Obi Enechionyia blocked him once more. We all complain how he needs to improve on defense and he proved us all wrong tonight with those two blocks that helped the Owls take down Wisconsin.
The Owls were dreadful at the line tonight going 53%, but Shizz Alston Jr closed the game out by making four of his own. Shizz Alston Jr was by far the MVP of this game and like I mentioned in my last article, needs to be nationally recognized.
Head coach of Wisconsin Greg Gard said, “We had opportunities but we have to make a better decision”, was a key reason the Badgers could not pull off the upset.
A frustrated Greg Gard, Head coach of Wisconsin, after blowing the game down the stretch tonight. “we had opportunities but we have to make better decisions”- Gard pic.twitter.com/mKS0lwll1X
— Ryan Haase (@haase1013) December 7, 2017
This is another power five win now for the Owls which makes quality wins over Auburn (SEC), Clemson (ACC), South Carolina (SEC), and Wisconsin (BIG10). The committee value wins over mid-level Power Five teams so Temple should be sitting in a good position going into conference play. Yes, Wisconsin is down this year, but a win is a win and no matter what a record of a Badger team is, you know they will always play you hard.
The Temple Owls will take on the Saint Joseph Hawks Saturday, December 9th at 2:30 pm on CBS Sports Network. This will be the second Big Five game for the Owls as they look to get even after losing to La Salle earlier this year. Phil Martelli and Fran Dunphy have a special relationship that will forever be unbroken. On my podcast called, “The Fifth Quarter” Dunphy called this so-called rivalry “The best of Philadelphia”. Make sure to tune in and see the game.