Temple drops four of last five with loss to South Florida

Temple Men’s Basketball could not find enough answers for South Florida’s offense, dropping its conference opener to the Bulls 76-68 on the road Thursday.

Temple Men's Basketball dropped its first conference game of the season in a close bout, falling to South Florida 76-68 Thursday. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Midway through the second half of Temple Men’s Basketball game against South Florida, the Bulls were enjoying an 8-0 run, with the Owls hanging by a thread and hoping to find a way back into the game.

Instead, the Bulls put an exclamation point on the game when guard Kobe Knox caught a lob and slammed it home to extend their lead to nine with seven minutes left.

Temple (7-7, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) fell to USF (8-4, 1-0 AAC) 76-68 Thursday night at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. The Owls could not find an answer and dropped their first AAC game of the season. The team has now lost four of their last five games dating back to nearly a month ago.

Neither team was able to start the game strong, as Temple guard Hysier Miller scored the first points nearly three minutes into the contest. Temple extended its lead to six before the Bulls answered back with five straight points two minutes later.

The Owls have struggled shooting the ball through their losing stretch, and that trend continued in the first half. They shot just 36 percent from the field in the half but finished at 41 percent for the game, their highest figure since their loss to VCU on Dec. 16. Miller struggled to find his rhythm, shooting 6-17 from the field and 0-8 from three-point range.

However, Temple guard Matteo Piccereli found a groove in the first half, adding eight points off the bench to help the Owls to a 18-12 lead eight minutes into the game. The Bulls countered with a 22-10 run led by guard Jayden Reid, who scored eight of his 14 points in the first half.

Temple guard Jordan Riley posted a season-high 21 points, and Miller found his form in the second half as the two teams traded blows. The lead changed 13 times during the game, and the Owls held the lead for one more minute than the Bulls.

Miller’s second-half resurgence came too little, too late for the Owls as their poor shooting and 12 turnovers caught up with them. USF made 10 straight shots to lead by nine in the waning minutes of the game.

Temple cut the deficit to one point with less than two minutes to play, but the Bulls made 14 of their last 16 shots, headlined by forward Kasean Pryor’s dunk, and made any chance of a Temple comeback impossible.

The Owls will return to North Broad after more than a month when they host Wichita State (8-5, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) on Jan. 7 at noon.

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