Temple forces Connecticut to play small ball in double-overtime win

J.P. Moorman played much of the game as a small-ball center.

Senior guard Alani Moore II steps on the court during the Owls' game against the University of Connecticut at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 20. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s basketball (14-12, 6-7 The American Athletic Conference) took down Connecticut 14-12, 5-8 The AAC) in double overtime Thursday night by a score of 93-89. 

The Owls once again had success going with a small lineup, whether it was running five guards or four guards with junior forward J.P. Moorman II as a small-ball center. 

Coach Aaron McKie said whether Moorman would see more minutes at the five would be matchup-determined. 

As a result, Huskies junior center Josh Carlton only played 14 minutes in a game that went two extra periods. Carlton averages 22.2 minutes per game on the season. 

 “We were kind of forced to play as small as they did because we couldn’t have matched up,” Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said.

Temple broke out the five-guard lineup when they beat Southern Methodist (18-7, 8-5 The AAC) in overtime on Feb. 8, and have had success doing it since.

“In spite of who’s in the game, we still want to attack the basket,” McKie said. “I’m comfortable with the guys getting in there, getting paint touches. If nothing else, we got those shot blockers off their feet, we can kick out to guys who can hopefully knock down a shot.  

While senior guard Quinton Rose struggled from the field, going 3-of-15, the rest of the Owls’ guards stepped up. 

Redshirt-junior guard Monty Scott had 25 points off 10-of-15 shooting, including a three-pointer to tie the game and send it to double overtime. 

Scott said the play was something the Owls worked on in practice for end-of-game situations. 

“It felt like it was going in,” Scott said. 

Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis also had a strong outing in 45 minutes of action. Pierre-Louis finished with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including going 2-of-3 from behind the arc. He also had 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals. 

Pierre-Louis ditched his goggles a couple of weeks ago and has essentially been playing blind ever since. He did not replace them with contact lenses. 

“I’m not wearing anything,” Pierre-Louis said. “Mentally, I was kind of in my own head.” 

Pierre-Louis said once he has made the change, he has been able to concentrate more on his free throws, as well as other aspects of his game. He was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. 

The small-ball Owls will look to build off this game as the season winds down. Their next game is at East Carolina (10-17, 4-10, The American) this Sunday at noon.

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