Central Florida’s interior game stifles Temple

The Owls shot 31.3 percent from the floor in their 77-53 loss to the Knights in Orlando, Florida.

When redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle stepped to the line with three minutes, 38 seconds left in the first half and made a pair of free throws, Temple finally got into double digit scoring.

Central Florida outscored Temple (9-6, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) by 27 points in the first half on the way to a 77-53 win on Saturday in Orlando, Florida. The Knights’ win ends a four-game losing streak against Temple. The Owls have averaged 51.5 points in their two conference games, far less than their 74.4 scoring average in nonconference contests.

The Knights fed the ball to sophomore center Tacko Fall in the paint to get the Owls’ big men in foul trouble. Fall, a 7-foot-6-inch, 290-pound big man, had four points and four rebounds in the first half, but more importantly made the Owls consistently change their lineup.

Senior forward Mark Williams and junior forward Obi Enechionyia each committed three fouls and sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui committed two fouls in the first half. Central Florida used its size to outrebound Temple 28-12 and score 10 points in the paint in the first half. Five Knights had four or more rebounds, led by redshirt-junior swingman A.J. Davis’ five.

Knights redshirt-senior guard Matt Williams had 14 points in the first half to outscore the entire Temple squad. The Knights shot 39.3 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, while Temple shot 13.8 percent, including 10 percent from 3-point range. The 11 first-half points for Temple are the lowest since the team’s 16 first-half points in its’ loss to Villanova on Dec. 16.

Williams and Fall each finished with 17 points to lead the Knights. Senior guard and forward Tank Efianayi added 12 points. The Knights, led by redshirt-senior forward Nick Banyard’s 11 boards, finished with a 51-30 rebounding advantage.

Enechionyia picked up his fourth foul with 7:43 left in the second half. After starting the season with 10 straight games in double figures, Enechionyia has only done so in one of the last five games. Enechionyia didn’t score on Saturday until he split a pair of free throws with 6:02 left. He finished with four points and one rebound before fouling out with 5:03 left.

Enechionyia has now scored 4.7 points per game in his last three contests. His scoring average has decreased from 21 points per game after the Owls’ win against St. Joseph’s on Nov. 30 to 14.7 points per game.

Sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. finished with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Freshman guard Quinton Rose and Dingle combined for 18 points, but did it on 6-of-26 shooting. Moore finished with six points and six rebounds.

Senior guard Josh Brown didn’t play for the third straight game. He sat out the first six games of the season while recovering from Achilles surgery in May, but then played in the next five contests. Brown still has the option to redshirt the season and use his last year of NCAA eligibility in the 2017-18 season.

Evan Easterling can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.

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