Temple men’s basketball upsets No. 16 Wichita State

Fans storm the court following Temple's 81-79 win against Wichita State on Thursday at the Liacouras Center. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Senior forward Obi Enechionyia entered Thursday’s game averaging less than three free-throw attempts per game.

He attempted eight against Wichita State. His last two, both makes, gave Temple an 81-79 overtime win against the No. 16 team in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll at the Liacouras Center. Shockers junior forward Markis McDuffie, whose sister Sierra McDuffie is a manager for Temple, missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with five seconds left.

Temple has now beaten a top-25 team in 11 straight seasons. The Owls moved up to No. 36 in the Ratings Percentage Index immediately after their win, their fourth in their past five games. Temple only led for three minutes, 51 seconds.

Maintaining possession was key. Temple (12-10, 4-6 American Athletic Conference) only had two turnovers in the second half and overtime. Wichita State (17-5, 7-3 The American), which entered play with the second-lowest turnover rate in Division I according to KenPom, had 16 turnovers that led to 16 Temple points.

“This is a very hard-fought, tough, a gritty win for our team,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’re thrilled by that because it looked like it was about ready to get away from us in that second half.”

Wichita State redshirt-sophomore guard Landry Shamet had six of Wichita State’s turnovers. He entered the game with the best assists-per-game mark in The American during conference play.

Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown had a large hand in disrupting Shamet’s play-making ability, junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said.

Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown (right) directs the flow of the offense during the Owls’ 81-79 win against Wichita State at the Liacouras Center on Thursday. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Brown had a game-high three steals. He also had a season-high 15 points and shot 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

“I feel like he’s one of the best defenders in our conference,” Alston said. “He’s been a great defender all his career. Last game, he held [UConn junior guard] Jalen Adams to about five points and tonight he did the same thing with Shamet.”

“We turned it over too much,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “We made some careless passes in the second half.”

Alston became an unlikely hero at the end of regulation. He went 1-for-9 from the field in the first half before ending regulation by hitting a game-tying runner to send the game to overtime. Alston scored 12 points on 5-of-22 shooting.

“I knew I wasn’t shooting it well from the outside, and I felt that I couldn’t let my team down tonight,” Alston said. “Josh kept me going saying, ‘Keep shooting and get to the basket.’ So I decided he carried us in the second half, so I tried to help him out as much as I could in the second.”

Temple didn’t score in the first half of overtime. Wichita State started the period on a 5-0 run.

Sophomore guard Austin Reaves, who scored 20 of Wichita State’s 28 bench points, scored the first three points. Redshirt-senior guard Shaquille Morris scored the other two. He led all scorers with 24 points and surpassed the 1,000-career-point mark.

Five Owls scored in double figures for the first time since their win against Clemson University on Nov. 19 in the Charleston Classic final. Enechionyia and freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis each finished with 11 points.

Dunphy asked his players in the locker room after the game what they thought some of the key plays were. Freshman forward Justyn Hamilton pointed to Pierre-Louis’ effort.

Pierre-Louis also helped defend Shamet. He had two steals, one in each half. Pierre-Louis scored six points on an 8-2 run that helped Temple cut its deficit to four in the first half.

After only scoring 42 points against No. 9 Cincinnati on Jan. 24, Temple has back-to-back games with 80 or more points for the first time this season. Before Sunday’s win against UConn, the Owls hadn’t scored 80 or more points in a game since their win on Dec. 9 against St. Joseph’s.

Temple’s next game is on Sunday against Tulane in New Orleans. The Green Wave beat Temple, 85-75, in December at the Liacouras Center.

“We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and since that meeting we’ve been practicing really hard, competitive,” Brown said. “We always believed in the locker room that we were a better team. …So we’re just going to bond together and try to get these games.”

Evan Easterling
can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu Or you can follow Evan on Twitter @Evan_Easterling Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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