The men’s basketball team dropped its Atlantic 10 Conference opener 57-52 at Xavier on Thursday night. The loss drops Temple’s record to 10-4, 0-1 while Xavier improves to 8-6, 1-0. The loss also marks the first consecutive regular season losses the Owls have incurred since February of the 2008-09 season.
Xavier outshot Temple by a margin of 41 percent to 34 percent in the game. The Musketeers outrebounded the Owls 42-31 and the Xavier bench outscored Temple’s 11 to 3.
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt and redshirt-senior forward Scootie Randall, the team’s two leading scorers, were held to 18 points combined on 7-for-26 shooting. Wyatt, after scoring 26 points against No. 6 Kansas on Jan. 6, scored five points on 2-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three.
Xavier freshman guard Semaj Christon led all scorers with 16 points and went 7-for-15 shooting. Senior forward Travis Taylor registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Temple trailed by three at halftime after shooting 40 percent in the first half, including 33 percent from three. Xavier shot 4-for-14 (29 percent) from three, but Temple fared even worse from beyond the arc, going 4-for-20 (20 percent). The Owls had two chances to tie the game in the final minute, but Wyatt and Randall both missed threes.
The loss is another addition to what has been an inconsistent season for the Owls. Temple upset then No.3 Syracuse (15-1) at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22 after losing to Canisius (10-5) three days earlier. The Owls were leading No. 6 Kansas (13-1) with as little as four minutes left on Sunday, Jan. 6, in what ended up being a loss. Now, Temple has dropped its first conference game against Xavier, which had been on a four-game losing streak.
Temple will try to right the ship in another tough A-10 battle on Saturday at home vs. Saint Louis (11-3).
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.