Temple University men’s basketball won handily against fifth-place Tulsa in The American today, after playing its best offense of the season during the first half and securing clutch free throws at the end of the game.
Temple (4-4, 3-4 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Tulsa (8-6, 5-4 The American), 76-67 thanks to aggressive play from their guards and a 19-point lead heading into the second half.
The Owls made 51.6 percent of their field goals, 5-of-12 3-point shots and grabbed 24 rebounds in the first half. Temple’s combative offensive style generated open-shot opportunities for senior forward De’Vondre Perry and sophomore guard Khalif Battle.
However, the Owls’ aggressiveness slowly faded in the second half, when Temple turned the ball more than 10 times and the Golden Hurricane took advantage by shooting 13-for-28 from the field.
Head coach Aaron Mckie was thankful for the early lead since the original game plan was to get the ball inside and drive into the paint but the Owls’ struggled in the second half when Tulsa prevented them from getting inside, he said.
“We are at our best when we are moving the defense from side to side, let’s move these guys and attack the paint,” said McKie. “We started launching some quick threes and we aren’t that type of team yet.”
Tulsa junior forward Rey Idowu led Tulsa with 20 points against the Owls and made 7-of-11 shots from the field. Temple’s defense struggled throughout the second half to guard inside the paint, but the Owls still had 13 defensive rebounds in the second half.
The Golden Hurricane’s ability to attack the paint in the second half helped them reduce the Owls’ 19-point lead to a seven-point lead with just under a minute left in the game.
Temple had more than 20 total fouls, which caused them to lose junior forward Jake Forrester and redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn late in the second half.
Temple’s starters scored 48 points and their bench players scored 28. Battle, who led the team with 22 points, brought energy and fire off the bench in his third game of the season.
“My job coming off the bench is to play hard, I don’t think I had the best game, I still had five turnovers at the end of the day, so I have to keep on working on controlling the ball,” Battle said.
Temple sealed the win at the free-throw line. With 20 seconds left, Battle, who made 7-out-8 free throws, got to the line and made two free throws for the Owls, making the lead 76-67.
Temple will take on Tulane (6-4, 1-4 The American) at the Liacouras Center this Sunday at 12 p.m.