Despite an 80-75 win, coach Fran Dunphy said the men’s basketball team has to “get better at everything” after the Owls’ (3-0) game against Delaware (2-4) Sunday.
Temple was outshot by a margin of 57 percent to 48 percent and allowed two Blue Hens to score 20 or more points, but the balanced scoring attack of the Owls kept the game in Temple’s favor.
Temple had eight players score, including four in double digits. The Owls got 22 points from their bench after the unit scored five points against Rice on Nov. 17.
“Depth for us was great,” Dunphy said. “It’s great to have this much depth and we’re working at managing it.”
On the contrary, Delaware got 54 of its 75 points from two players. Junior guard Devon Saddler scored 25 and senior forward Jamelle Hagins 29 points and added 12 rebounds. Saddler and Hagins combined for 33 of Delaware’s 41 second-half points.
“Hagins was really good and Saddler was really good, and we weren’t very good defensively,” Dunphy said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do a number of times.”
Both of the Owls’ transfers scored their most points since coming to Temple. Graduate forward Jake O’Brien scored 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc and redshirt-junior Dalton Pepper scored six points on two treys.
Redshirt-senior forward Scootie Randall and senior guard Khalif Wyatt led the Owls with 18 points apiece. Randall added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Wyatt finished with seven assists, one shy of his career high.
“I’m having fun trying to get my teammates involved,” Wyatt said. “Offense is going to come, so I try not think about it and try to go out and make the right play, whether it’s a shot or a pass.”
Temple took the lead at the 16 minute, 44 seconds mark of the first half and held it for the rest of the game. The Owls outshot the Blue Hens in three-point percentage by a margin of 50 percent to 25 percent in the first half, and 24 of Temple’s 41 first-half points came from beyond the arc.
“Sometimes it’s about letting the game come to you and sometimes, when the opportunity presents itself, you have to knock it down,” Randall said. “I think we just had to find a way to get the job done.”
However, Temple got into foul trouble in the first half, committing eight first-half fouls. Hagins led all first-half scorers with 13 points, four of which came from the foul line.
Delaware outshot Temple 58 percent to 50 percent in the first half, but the Blue Hens were unable to take advantage of offensive opportunities as well as Temple. The Owls scored 10 points off seven Delaware turnovers, while the Blue Hens scored four points off seven Temple turnovers.
Delaware outscored Temple in the second half due to Hagins’ and Saddler’s 16 and 17 second-half points, respectively. Owls’ redshirt-sophomore forward Anthony Lee got into foul trouble early in the second half, and Saddler had his way in the paint for the remainder of the game.
Wyatt scored 10 of his 18 points to lead the Owls in the second half. The Owls had a season-high 12 steals in the game and forced 16 Delaware turnovers. Temple scored 20 points off turnovers, compared to Delaware’s 13.
The win gives Temple a 3-0 record for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when the Owls went to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
“It’s great to win games, but it’s even better to win games when you’re playing well. I’m happy to be 3-0, I’d like us to be playing a little bit better basketball right now, but we’ll take it and move on.”
Temple plays at Buffalo on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.