Temple Withstands VCU Run to Knock Off The Rams

By Matt Josephs
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Most people love roller coasters for the highs and the lows you experience during a typical ride.

Temple fans had those same feelings as they took the court against VCU this afternoon. The Owls moved to 23-8 on the season and will take the A-10 third seed entering what will be a wild weekend in Brooklyn, NY.  The Rams, meanwhile, are 24-7 and will be the two seed.

Sunday’s performance proved that Temple belongs in the field of 68 and that with the right matchup, they could make a run.  They have all the pieces which were on display at the Liacouras Center.  It’s a senior laden squad with scorers and good ballhandlers.  The Owls had only 13 turnovers against the vaunted pressure of VCU.  They wilted a bit for a stretch in the first half, before taking care of the ball in the 2nd.

Khalif Wyatt led the way with 30 points from the field on 8-18 shooting.  Wyatt’s ability to get in the lane and mix it with a silky smooth jump shot makes him a tough guard for anyone.  He does get in trouble yacking to the refs too much, but the senior certainly has earned respect.

The weapons continue on with 5th year senior Jake O’Brien who is the best shooter on the team from long-range.  O’Brien poured in 19 points making five three-pointers. Every team needs someone who is going to stretch the defense and the fact that he is so tall makes it more difficult.

Will Cummings has improved his offensive skills and is now becoming a threat along with senior Scootie Randall. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson is the ultimate glue player playing good defense along with making timely buckets and grabbing rebounds.  This is a deep team that can come at you in many ways.

The big question will be their commitment to defense.  The Owls have allowed 78 points to Detroit, 82 to UMass and 84 to Duquesne.  Efforts like that won’t be tolerated in a one-and-done situation.  If there was any doubt that the Owls should be dancing, they answered those questions on Sunday.  A home win over VCU combined with wins over Syracuse, Villanova and St. Louis should do the trick.

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