Coming off its biggest win of the season over then No. 3 Syracuse, Temple (10-2) put down any thought of a let down by dismantling Bowling Green (5-8) 75-57 in the men’s basketball program’s 1,800th win.
Graduate forward Jake O’Brien led a balanced scoring attack with a season-high 15 points and shot three-for-five from the three-point line. After the game, coach Fran Dunphy praised O’Brien’s size and shooting ability, and said he couldn’t liken him to any player he’s coached before.
“Nobody’s coming to mind for me, with that kind of size and that kind of shooting ability,” Dunphy said. “When he shoots it, I typically think it’s going in. That’s how much confidence I have in him.”
After scoring a season high 33 points against Syracuse, senior guard Khalif Wyatt scored seven points on seven shots, but had a team high eight assists, tying his career high.
“I thought, while Khalif didn’t score, he was doing a great job making plays,” Dunphy said. “Some days he’s not going to be a scorer, he’s going to be a play maker.”
“I just feel out each game differently,” Wyatt said. “Sometimes they don’t need me to score. It’s just feeling out the game and seeing what the team needs. I think today we needed someone to get the team shots.”
As a team, the Owls had 23 assists on 27 field goals, something which impressed the coach.
“We were efficient with our offensive game plan,” Dunphy said. “23 assists on 27 baskets is pretty extraordinary.”
The Owls’ domination of Bowling Green marked the 1,800th win for the men’s basketball program, an achievement held only by Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse. Acting President Richard Englert, incoming-President Neil Theobald and Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw presented Dunphy with a ball commemorating the win. After the game, Dunphy spoke about the tradition associated with being a part of the milestone
“It’s a wonderful university, with a spectacular basketball tradition and history,” Dunphy said. “I’m very pleased to be a small part of it. I’m happy for our guys that they can talk about the number, but I think more importantly your among some pretty heavy hitters in college basketball.”
The Owls were supposed to play Detroit last Friday, but the game was postponed due to travel issues. Dunphy said the layoff didn’t affect the team’s play, even though he said he would have liked to see the game played.
“In my tender age, I’ve learned you control what you can control,” Dunphy said. “We would’ve liked to have played the game. It didn’t happen. I told the guys if this is the worst thing that’s ever happened in your lifetime, you’re in pretty good shape.”
While senior forward A’uston Calhoun had a game-high 22 points for the Falcons, no other player had more than six points for Bowling Green including senior guard Jordon Crawford who finished with a season-low four points. Coming into today’s game, Crawford led the Falcons with 16.5 points per game.
“We slowed them down enough so they didn’t make runs at us,” Dunphy said. “I thought we did a really good job against Jordan Crawford, who’s a tough guy to guard. When we lost last year, I thought he was the catalyst that put the ‘L’ beside our name.”
Temple faces another test when it travels to No. 6 Kansas (11-1) on Sunday.
“They’re just a wonderful basketball program,” Dunphy said. “It’s a fabulous experience. Tremendous basketball atmosphere, just like it was when we went to Madison Square Garden and played another extraordinary basketball program.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.