Temple men’s basketball’s poor shooting overshadows strong defense

The Owls have the worst shooting percentage in The American Athletic Conference.

Senior guard Quinton Rose attempts a layup during the Owls’ 66-59 loss to Penn at the Palestra on Jan. 25. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Through 19 games last season, Temple men’s basketball was 15-4 with a 5-1 record in American Athletic Conference play. 

In the same stretch this season, the Owls are 10-9 with a 2-5 record in conference games and have lost six of their last seven games. 

Temple has played strong defense so far this season but has been unable to find consistent scoring to supplement its defense. The Owls are allowing opponents to shoot 39.1 percent from the field this season, which ranks fifth in The American. 

“Approach practice like a winner, and you will get good results,” coach Aaron McKie said. “We wish we were undefeated at this point, but we are not. So we have to make some adjustments, maybe start to do some things different to get ourselves out of this tailspin.” 

The Owls average 8.2 steals a game, which ranks third in The American. Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis leads the team with 39 steals, and senior guard Quinton Rose is second on the team with 38. 

Pierre-Louis is third in the conference with 2.1 steals per game, while Rose is fourth with 2.0 steals per game. Temple is also holding opponents to 28.7 percent from three-point range, ranking second in the conference. 

“I thought early on, even though we didn’t score the ball, I thought our defense was solid,” McKie said on Jan. 25. “Again, we are putting too much pressure on our defense because of our offense.” 

The Owls average 67.4 points per game, which ranks 11th in The American while shooting just 40.2 from the field, which is last in the conference. 

Rose averages a team-leading 15.4 points per game despite shooting a low 38.1 percent from the field. Pierre-Louis averages 11.1 points per game and is the only other player on the team averaging more than 10 points per game. 

Pierre-Louis is shooting just 39.2 percent from the field and is struggling to finish inside the paint. 

“People who play this game long enough go through different phases,” McKie said. “Finishing, not finishing, making shots, not making shots, you can go down the list. That’s where our trouble starts.”

Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis attempts to shoot a layup during the Owls’ 89-82 loss to Cincinnati on Jan. 22 at the Liacouras Center. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Rose scored 21 points in the team’s most recent game against Penn (8-7, 0-2 The Ivy League) on Jan. 25, but he took 25 shots. 

Temple took 10 minutes to score against the Quakers and shot 30.7 percent from the field in total. The Owls struggled to make wide-open layups and three-pointers during the game. 

“It didn’t really feel good,” Rose said. “We weren’t making shots early, like there was a lid on the basket. We had to rely on our defense for the most part. It was good. It took us a while to get going offensively.” 

The Owls will have an opportunity to turn around their shooting struggles against weaker defensive teams this week. Temple’s next two games are against Connecticut (10-9, 1-5 The AAC) on the road on Wednesday and at home against East Carolina (9-11, 3-4 The AAC) on Saturday. 

The Huskies allow 70.8 points per game, which is seventh in the American, and the Pirates allow 69.3 points per game, ranking ninth in the American.  

“We gotta put the ball in the hole,” McKie said. “It is being comfortable. It is being confident. Whether it is attacking the basket getting in there and finishing in traffic or being confident and knocking down open shots.”

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