Owls rise to 2nd in American rankings

The men’s basketball team has won six of its last seven games.

Senior guard Quenton DeCosey attempts a free throw during the second half of Temple's 83-79 overtime win against Tulsa on Thursday. | HOJUN YU TTN

Fran Dunphy said the Owls should count their blessings following their 62-60 win on Saturday against Central Florida.

The Knights outrebounded Temple by 15 at CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida, as the Owls shot 40 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from the 3-point line.

“We were fortunate to have won the game,” Dunphy said. “I thought our offense moved the ball pretty well. We did not make shots as well as I hoped we would.”

Saturday’s win was the Owls’ 14th victory in 22 games. The Owls are in second place in the American Athletic Conference, one game behind Southern Methodist.

With eight games remaining, the Owls have three games against opponents inside the Top 70 of the Ratings Percentage Index. The Owls, ranked No. 67 in the RPI, will face Connecticut and Villanova. The Wildcats are now the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 Poll.

This season, Dunphy’s squad is 5-5 against teams in the Top 100 of the RPI. After missing the NCAA Tournament with an RPI of 34 last season, Dunphy knows the importance of these final games.

“Every one of them is critical,” Dunphy said. “We have to play our best basketball from now on. Hopefully we can string more wins together.”

Junior forward Mark Williams scored a game-high 16 points against the Knights on 7-of-10 shots from the field.

In 72 career games, Williams has total double-figure points five times.

“It was critical to our success,” Dunphy said. “I think he was ready to go. His scoring was terrific.”

Joining Williams in double-digit scoring were senior guard Quenton DeCosey and sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia.

In the games where DeCosey totaled 15 or more points, the Owls are 11-1 and   7-3 in games where Enechionyia has scored 10 or more points.

“We have a bunch of guys that can score the ball, but we need Ob to score,” Dunphy said. “Is he the number-two guy? Probably average wise he’s there.”

Despite Enechionyia’s offensive production, Dunphy wants more from the sophomore on the defensive end.

In the team’s 22 games, Enechionyia has grabbed more than five rebounds twice.

“I think the thing Ob can do better is play defense,” Dunphy said. “He had some good looks at the basket [Saturday]. He shot it OK, but we need Ob to really start to play well on the defensive side of the ball and get after it on the glass.”

Before Saturday’s win, the Owls defeated Tulsa 83-79 in overtime on Thursday at the Liacouras Center after trailing by 12 points in the second half.

DeCosey fed senior guard Devin Coleman in the left corner for the game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

“We stuck together in the second half,” DeCosey said following the win. “I thought that was big for our team, a big home win. We won when we were down. It does a lot for our confidence moving forward.”

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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