Owls outlast Bearcats to pull ahead for second conference win

Temple Men’s Basketball had five double-digit scorers in a crucial 70-61 conference victory against the University of Cincinnati.

Temple sophomore guard Jahlil White fights past Cincinnati senior guard Jeremiah Davenport for the ball on Jan. 1 at The Liacouras Center. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In a game of scoring runs, it was a late stretch of misses by the Bearcats that gave the Owls their second consecutive victory. The missed scoring opportunities created too big of a hole for the visiting squad to climb out of as the Owls won big on the boards.

Temple Men’s Basketball (8-7, 2-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Cincinnati (10-5, 1-1 The American) 70-61 on Sunday afternoon in a New Year’s Day matchup at The Liacouras Center. Temple outrebounded Cincinnati 46 to 28 during the game.

In the continued absence of sophomore big Jamille Reynolds due to injury, sophomore guard Jahlil White stepped up on the glass, securing a career-high 16 rebounds. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Khalif Battle did not start for the second consecutive contest and was joined on the floor roughly three minutes into the game by redshirt sophomore guard Damian Dunn, who also came off the bench. Dunn missed Temple’s previous 59-57 win against East Carolina University (10-5, 1-1 The American) on Dec. 28 after suffering a head injury in Temple’s 86-78 loss to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (6-7, 0-0 The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) on Dec. 20. 

Battle and Dunn made a difference on the floor by cutting to the basket and moving the ball faster than the initial lineup did. Having the two potent scorers on the floor at the same time provides a spark for Temple that goes missing when they are on the bench. 

Battle also played well late in the game, scoring 13 of his 14 points in the second half. However, the bulk of the early scoring came from White, sophomore guard Hysier Miller and sophomore forward Nick Jourdain. 

“I thought Hysier with his poise and the way he controlled the game did a really good job,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “Ja was just aggressive throughout the game.”

Miller scored eight points in the first half while White was attacking the basket with the type of confidence he has lacked since the beginning of the season. White had 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists within 20 minutes. 

If White becomes a steady offensive threat for the Owls, it creates opportunities for many other scoring outlets to open up. 

“I wasn’t as confident coming into the season,” White said. “I’m straight now.”

Some of these outlets, like sophomore forward Zach Hicks, came alive for the Owls. Temple ended the first half on a 17-2 run after trailing 27-20 and Hicks hit three three-pointers to go along with five boards. Cincinnati missed 10 of their final 11 shot attempts during the final stretch of the period. 

For Cincinnati, a team who entered the game outscoring their opponents by an average of 11.8 points per game, Temple provided an opponent who matched them at most facets of the game. The guard play from redshirt senior Landers Nolley II and graduate David DeJulius is difficult for many teams to manage, but Miller, White, Battle and Dunn were a formidable backcourt to offset their points on the opposite end of the floor. 

The Bearcats were riding a four-game winning streak, averaging about 85 points per contest prior to their game against the Owls. Temple held them to 29 first half points on 35 percent field goal shooting and gave up no double-digit scorers in the first period. 

The second half saw scoring from unlikely sources. White continued his great play inside, but he also stepped out and hit a deep two to go along with a three from Jourdain as well. The Owls stormed out to a double-digit lead they held onto for the remainder of the game.

“That’s my style, that’s more like it,” McKie said regarding the team’s performance. 

Next up, the Owls head to Tampa, Florida, where they will take on the University of South Florida (7-7, 0-1 The American) at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4. 

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