Last week the Temple Owls held on to a close one against Drexel 63-60. The Owls went cold in the second half of that game and it carried over to this matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs won a blow out 84-66 putting Temple to (7-4) on the year. The story was all about Temple’s guard play as star players Shizz Alston Jr and Quinton Rose struggled in the first half.
Obi Enechionyia hit a three to start the game for a 3-0 Temple lead. You may be wondering why would I feel the need to document that but my point is that this was the only bright spot of the entire game. If it was not for Obi Enechionyia, the Owls would probably have waved the white flag at halftime. The senior forward, who has been talked about as a possible NBA player, has been as cold as the north pole on Christmas morning. He shut up the critics and posted a career-high 27 points and scoring 23 of them in the second half. He made seven three-pointers and was (7-9) for the day. He is a career 37% three-point shooter, but this year he is shooting 31%, so this performance is a step in the right direction.
As far as the game itself, the score at the half was 40-23 Bulldogs. Temple’s two-star guards had a combined two points in the first half. Shizz Alston Jr and Quinton Rose have been a dynamic duo on past games but mentally did not make the flight down to Atlanta. This has been Temples problem for over a decade now, there are games they just flat out are not prepared for mentally and emotionally. They gave a fight in the second half cutting the lead to fifteen after a three by Obi Enechionyia, to make it 53-38 with 12.52 left.
Credit must be given to Georgia forward Yante Maten as he had a career day with 30 points and 12 rebounds. He established a base down low and would get offensive rebounds left and right. He even went (2-4) from three as his game opened up in the second half. Temples forwards were no match for Yante Maten and that also has been a troubled area of the Owls this season, defending a big.
Temple was exposed in the Villanova game and now exposed in this game for lack of weapons and bodies down low to get defensive rebounds. Fran Dunphy has to do a whole practice on just reteaching how to box out. It was hard to watch and it made me want to throw my remote at the TV.
📍Athens, GA pic.twitter.com/vZzSivMPxr
— Temple Men's Basketball (@TUMBBHoops) December 21, 2017
A strange stat, which defines who the Temple Owls are was their two-point numbers compared to their three-point numbers. The Owls shot (25-63) 39% from inside the arc, compared to (12-26) 47% from beyond the arc. To me, this is the blueprint for this Temple team, but is this the way to win games? That a question that I will leave open to the readers.
I could go into the breakdown like I usually do for the last five minutes of the game but the game was already won by the Bulldogs at this point. All around. it was a poor performance by the players and the coaches getting these young men ready to play on their last game before a quick winter break.
The Owls went (7-4) in the non-conference portion of their schedule. They had a tough stretch playing teams from the SEC, ACC, Big East, A10, and the BIG10. Their RPI is among some of the best in college basketball so look at that as a plus. They rattled off wins over Clemson, Auburn, South Carolina, and Wisconsin to help their resume come NCAA Tournament time. A key loss was against George Washington, but overall, I think the committee will look at the number of neutral wins they racked up and give the Owls the respect.
What is next
The Temple Owls start off conference play against Tulane, December 28th at 7 pm on ESPN2. I really feel that Temple will come out firing and get the needed first win of the AAC schedule. All home games are a must to stay on that path to the postseason. Overall, I would give the Owls non-conference play a 6.5/10