The men’s basketball team said the Owls can learn from its home opener against Rice, despite winning the game by a 14-point margin.
Redshirt-sophomore forward Anthony Lee and redshirt-senior forward Scootie Randall registered their first career double-doubles to lead Temple (2-1) to a 77-63 win against Rice (1-2) at the Liacouras Center Saturday night.
“I thought we had some pretty good looks at the basket, but we didn’t shoot it very well,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “I thought we did some good things, but I wouldn’t suggest it was a work of art by any stretch.”
Lee set a career high in rebounds with 13 and added 16 points. Randall scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson led the team with 18 points.
“Anthony was terrific tonight in so many ways,” Dunphy said. “I thought he did a very good job on the offensive end, plus he came up with 13 rebounds. He’s starting to understand that’s a great strength for him.”
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt scored 17 points and handed out six assists while recovering from a hamstring injury that limited him in the season opener.
“I was just trying to stay hydrated and stay loose and not think about it,” Wyatt said. “I’ll get a day to rest it and try to get back at it on Monday.”
However, Temple’s offensive success came more from forcing turnovers and outrebounding the Owls than commanding a well-organized offense.
Temple shot 41 percent from the floor, including 15 percent from three, but forced 13 turnovers and outrebounded Rice 43 to 30. Temple also had a lack of scoring from its bench. The Temple starting five contributed for 72 of the team’s 77 points.
“[Shooting] is what we do well,” Randall said. “I think next game, shots are going to fall.”
“Every game, different guys are going to step up,” Wyatt said. “Like you saw with Scootie in game one, guys are going to explode.”
Temple started the game on an 11-3 run, but Rice worked its way back into the game before halftime due to a 50 percent shooting percentage. Temple shot 3-for-16 from beyond the arc in the first half and led by three at halftime.
“The first half, I thought our shooting was poor. I thought they did a great job running their sets. We overplayed them on occasion. Our second half defense was better than our first half.”
“I think we have a pretty decent shooting team, so I’ll take those shots whenever we can get them,” Dunphy added. “But we just didn’t knock them down today.”
Temple shot even worse in the second half, but was able to maintain its lead by scoring in the paint and outrebounding Rice. Temple shot 39 percent in the second half, including 4-for-26 from three. Temple scored 18 of its 43 second-half points in the paint and outrebounded Rice 24-13.
Temple has a week off before facing Delaware Sunday, Nov. 25 at the Liacouras Center at 2 p.m.
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.