It’s not quite a running theme for the men’s basketball team, but the last two games have been pretty straightforward.
Early first-half runs, aggressive defense and solid 3-point shooting have been the recent motto for the
Owls, as Saturday night at the Liacouras Center, they coasted to an 80-53
win over Charlotte.
Senior guard Semaj Inge led the way, as he tied a career-high with 19 points on 8-12 shooting. In addition,
sophomore forward Lavoy Allen had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and junior guard Ryan Brooks chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds.
After a sloppy first few minutes to the game, the Owls went on a 19-2 run that put them up by 18 points. By halftime, Temple (11-7 overall, 3-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) held a 43-17 advantage, and with that, the only thing in question was how big the margin of victory would be.
The fast starts, which the Owls also accomplished Thursday night against Saint Louis, have played a big part in the last two games being easy, blowout victories.
“We’ve just been really, really focused these last couple of games,” Inge said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for Charlotte, so we just tried to come out and give as much effort as we could tonight.”
Senior guard Dionte Christmas, normally the Owls’ leading scorer, finished with 12 points on 4-12 shooting, but with all the attention on him, it opened up things for the rest of his teammates.
“Tonight, I guess everyone was so focused on Dionte, so you got to give credit to him for giving [the ball] up,” Inge said. “And I just happened to be the guy he was finding.”
And that offensive selfishness, combined with the improved defensive play that forced Charlotte (6-12, 1-4 A-10) into shooting a season-low shooting percentage for a Temple opponent, made coach Fran Dunphy happy.
“We have to hang our hat on our defensive play,” he said. “I was pleased with how we guarded, certainly in that first half. And then we got some separation from them in the first half, Semaj had those three 3’s, which were just great for us.”
The defense, which held its second consecutive opponent to under 20 points in the first half, has been the focus of Dunphy’s practices.
But that’s old news.
“It’s always on defense,” Brooks said. “That’s non-stop with coach Dunphy and the coaching staff. It’s something that we have to start putting into the game and doing on a consistent basis. When we commit to defense…we’re a much better basketball team.”
And it also helps, from a player’s perspective, to have a rotation where everybody knows their role and when they’re going into the game.
“Once the starting lineup changed and once we got the time to get in the groove and gel together with the rotation that the coaching staff was comfortable with, games like this can happen,” Brooks said. “Our offensive skills can show.”
Those offensive skills, though, were never the focus on legendary former coach John Chaney, who was inducted into the Temple Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon along with longtime trainer Dr. Ray Moyer.
Chaney received a standing ovation when he was introduced at halftime, and after the game, Dunphy spoke highly of a man who was almost known more for his off-the-court work than what he accomplish on the sidelines.
“He’s revered around and should be,” Dunphy said. “[Chaney] is a great man, he’s done so much for so many that you’re never going to hear about it. And I think that’s the quality of his person.”
The Owls hit the road Wednesday night for a date with Rhode Island. They return home next Saturday at 6:30 p.m. for a matchup with Richmond.
Charlotte junior guard Ian Anderson got on the nerves of the team and student section by blowing kisses after he hit each of his three 3-pointers. Though, he was doing it to his wife, whom he recently married, not to show off Temple or its fans…An unidentified fan ran on the court during one the Diamond Gems’ performances and even danced with them, but after about 30 seconds, she was removed by Temple Police to a standing ovation from the Student Section…This was the 1,700th win in Temple basketball history.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.