On the night sophomore center Wayne Marshall made his season debut, the men’s basketball team relied on its perimeter game – and not inside scoring – to sink South Carolina.
Senior guards Anytwane Robinson and Mardy Collins combined for 29 of the Owls’ 41 second-half points in beating the Gamecocks, 63-50, Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.
The Owls were outrebounded in six of their first eight games of the season and after each of those games, coach John Chaney stressed the importance of a scoring threat in the paint. Marshall sat out those games with dizzy spells.
While Marshall’s five points in 17 minutes do not seem like much, the 6-foot-11, 285-pound forward took some defensive pressure off the Owls’ perimeter shooters.
Chaney said Marshall’s return was immeasurable, saying “it changes a lot” for his team’s offensive and defensive schemes.
“He must have come in contact with a number of shots around the basket,” he said. “Blocking out. You got to do that when you have a kid his size. He brings a great offensive presence.”
The Owls and Gamecocks were tied at 22 at halftime. Both teams responded after the break with separate offensive spurts, exchanging the lead four times in a span of eight minutes.
The score was knotted again, this time at 33, with 12 minutes to play. Then the Owls (6-3) took control for good. Robinson scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Collins netted 13 of his 15 in the same span.
In all, the Owls finished the game on a 30-17 run.
Robinson credited assistant coach Dan Leibovitz with his offensive outburst, which kept the Owls a perfect 4-0 on their home floor.
“Coach Dan told me to take responsibility of myself, [and] to step up,” Robinson said. “It was more a matter of running the offense and getting the open shots.”
Marshall’s first day back with the team was a Thanksgiving Day practice, when he did his first shooting, running and weightlifting in six months. He said he is 20 to 25 pounds over his desired playing weight, adding that Thursday’s game with South Carolina was a first step.
“There was no nervousness, but I know it’s going to take a lot to get back [into playing form,]” Marshall said. “I got tired really quick.”
Last year’s matchup with the Gamecocks (7-3) was a peculiar one, as Chaney withheld Collins and Marshall from the starting lineup because they forgot to wear their winter caps on the team bus to the game. The Owls lost, 60-46, at South Carolina’s Colonial Center. … After shooting just 38 percent from the field in the first half, the Owls converted 63 percent of their shots in their explosive 41-point second half. … The Owls committed only five turnovers. They are 4-1 this season when they turn the ball over fewer than nine times. They entered the game leading the nation in fewest turnovers per game.
The Owls get a six-day holiday break from games before they take on No. 3 Villanova New Year’s Eve at the Palestra. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.
In last season’s meeting between the two Big 5 rivals, Salisbery’s three pointer gave the Owls a 53-52 win on Dec. 4 at the Palestra.
The Wildcats, 98-57 winners Thursday night over previously undefeated La Salle, are unbeaten through eight games. They are led by senior guards Randy Foye and Allan Ray. The two combine to average 42.3 points per game, more than half the Wildcats’ 82-point average output per contest.
For more photos from the Owls’ 63-50 win over South Carolina, please visit Temple News staff photographer Steve Gengler’s
Web site at: www.stephengengler.com/usc.html.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com. Ben Watanabe contributed to this report.