DAYTON, Ohio – One of the most challenging obstacles Temple faced in Sunday’s 58-52 loss to Indiana was the foul trouble that Temple’s big men got into.
Indiana sophomore forward Cody Zeller averages 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The Owls were able to hold him to 15 points and six rebounds today, and those numbers might have been even lower had graduate forward Jake O’Brien and sophomore forward Anthony Lee not gotten in to foul trouble.
“He’s a really good player, Zeller, and that certainly hurt us,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “The foul trouble that we were in hurt our rotation a little bit. I thought our guys did about as good as they could on him.”
O’Brien picked up his fourth foul with 12:05 to go in the game. He was immediately taken out in favor of Lee and O’Brien did not return for the remainder of the game. Lee played for the rest of the game, despite committing his fourth foul with 5:17 to go.
“We felt like we was playing pretty good defense, having my hands straight up,” Lee said. “Some of the calls weren’t going our way, so it put a lot of pressure on the guards, left Rahlir and other people to try and help Zeller.”
O’Brien had a particularly tough day. In his last collegiate game, he was scoreless on 0 for 4 shooting in just 13 minutes. He had scored double-digit points in eight of his previous nine games before Sunday.
“It was frustrating, picking up those early fouls and coming out in the second half with four and not being able to return,” O’Brien said. “Just knowing you can’t do much but watch. It was really frustrating for me. I wish I could have done more.”
“It’s disappointing for Jake,” Dunphy said. “I thought he got a couple calls that just didn’t go his way, including the fourth one. I thought he played about as good as he could play on the defensive end there. It would have been nice to have him for more minutes in the second half. Maybe we could have gotten him an open look.”
“That’s out of our control,” O’Brien said when asked about the officiating. “We have a lot of things to worry about, us players. The refs do their job. They’re professionals, we’re not. We go out and play the game, they call it.”
After scoring five total points and averaging 12 minutes a game for the past three games, Lee played 26 minutes, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds to go along with very good defense in the post.
“Anthony did about as good as he could do [against Zeller],” Dunphy said. “I thought Anthony did a very commendable job.”
“I told Coach I was ready to play my regular minutes if he felt necessary to do so,” Lee said. “I was feeling good, and now I feel good, but … I just felt like it really doesn’t matter how I played. We didn’t come out with the win.”
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.