Saturday’s American Athletic Conference clash with Cincinnati looked to be a tight, defensive battle after the first 20 minutes.
Not far into the game’s latter half, however, the Bearcats had turned it into a laugher.
The Bearcats outscored the Owls, 55-25, in the second half en route to handing the visitors their third straight loss in an 84-53 blowout at Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena, capping a brutal seven-day stretch for coach Fran Dunphy’s squad.
The loss followed a pair of defeats to Tulsa last Saturday and Southern Methodist on Wednesday in which the Owls lost double-digit leads in both contests.
After playing 27 minutes off the bench against SMU with a strained muscle in his lower left leg, senior guard Will Cummings was sidelined with the injury Saturday.
The loss of its senior leader has undoubtedly been a problem for Temple (12-7, 3-3 The American) since he fell awkwardly on the leg early in the second half of the Tulsa loss, as the Owls have not won a game since Cummings initially went down.
Bearcats forwards Jermaine Sanders (16), Octavius Ellis (13) and Gary Clarke (11) proved too much for Temple to handle, as they combined for 51 points and dominated in the paint.
Cincinnati guard Kevin Johnson gave the Owls fits from the perimeter, draining 4 of 5 long-range jumpers en route to a 14-point game.
The Bearcats (12-5, 3-2 The American) hit 29 of 54 attempts (54 percent) from the floor, including 9 of 14 from 3-point range as they finished with their best offensive game of the season.
For the Owls, the Bearcats’ shooting average marked Temple’s worst field-goal percentage allowed this season.
Junior guard Jesse Morgan led the Owls with 15 points in a losing effort, and went 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.
Freshman forward Obi Enechionyia notched a season-high scoring total in his first game off the bench since the Owls’ 57-53 defeat of Connecticut on Dec. 30, 2013, as he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and shot 6 for 8 from the field to finish with 14 points.
The Owls will attempt to bounce back Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against South Florida at the Liacouras Center.
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Andrew_Parent23.
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