AAC men’s basketball tourney seed set for Temple after loss to Tulsa

Temple will be the No. 7 seed at the American Athletic Conference tournament and face No. 10 Tulane on Thursday in Florida after Sunday’s 76-58 loss to Tulsa in Oklahoma.

Sophomore guard Quinton Rose drives in the lane during Temple's 85-75 loss against Tulane at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 28. | MIKE NGUYEN / FILE PHOTO

UPDATED at 8:36 p.m. on March 4, 2018

Just two weeks after Temple started its 21-point home loss to Houston by going scoreless for six minutes, 26 seconds, it managed to kick off its regular-season finale against Tulsa in worse fashion.

The Owls opened Sunday’s game at the Donald W. Reynolds Center without a basket in the first 10:04. In the meantime, Tulsa scored 24 consecutive points on the way to a 76-58 win.

The Golden Hurricane (19-11, 12-6 American Athletic Conference) entered Sunday’s action locked into the No. 4 seed in the upcoming conference tournament, which will give them a first-round bye. They’ll play in the quarterfinal round on Friday.

Temple (16-14, 8-10 The American) and Tulsa both entered Sunday’s action projected to reach the National Invitation Tournament, according to sports analytics site DRatings.com.

The Owls had a chance to move up to the sixth spot in The American’s standings entering the final day of regular-season action. With a Temple win and a Tulane win, the Owls could have passed Central Florida in the standings. Two other scenarios existed for Temple to move up to sixth.

The Owls will be the No. 7 seed and play No. 10 Tulane on Thursday in the first round at 7 p.m. in Orlando, Florida. The winner of that game will advance to face No. 2 Wichita State.

Despite falling behind by a large margin early, Temple made its way back into the game against Tulsa. Sophomore guard Quinton Rose had a personal 6-0 run early in the second half that cut Temple’s deficit to 34-24 and prompted a 30-second timeout from Tulsa coach Frank Haith with 17:54 left.

Then senior forward Obi Enechionyia made a 3-pointer for his first points of the game to extend Temple’s run to 9-0.

The Owls cut their deficit to seven points twice in the second half, but they couldn’t come any closer. The Owls shot 24 percent from 3-point range in their fourth loss out of their past five games.

Redshirt-senior forward Junior Etou, who entered the game fifth in The American in scoring, only scored six points. Nevertheless, Tulsa had three double-figure scorers led by senior guard Corey Henderson Jr.’s 21 points. Sophomore forward Martins Igbanu made eight of Tulsa’s 23 free throws as part of his 16-point day. Redshirt-sophomore guard Curran Scott scored 14 points off the bench.

Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown didn’t score his first field goal until there were 3:18 left in the game. Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. shot 3-for-15 from the field. Rose was Temple’s lone double-figure scorer with 17 points.

During Tulsa’s 24-0 first-half run, Temple didn’t grab any offensive rebounds and didn’t attempt any free throws. Rose broke Tulsa’s run with a jumper with 9:56 left in the first half.

The Owls cut their deficit to 15 points by halftime. Freshman forward J.P. Moorman II had a perfect first half, scoring a team-high eight points on 2-of-2 shooting from both 3-point range and the free-throw line.

Temple split its regular-season matchups with Tulane. The Owls lost to the Green Wave, 85-75, on Dec. 28 at the Liacouras Center. Tulane shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half, and junior guard Melvin Frazier scored 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field.

Temple beat Tulane, 83-76, on Feb. 4 in New Orleans for the third victory of its five-game winning streak. The Owls held the Green Wave to 3-for-18 from 3-point range and had 23 assists on 31 made field goals.

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