Despite coming off the bench for the first time in four games, sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt managed to score a career-high 27 points as the men’s basketball team defeated Pennsylvania, 73-56.
Wyatt, whose previous career-high in points was 15, shot nine-of-13 from the field, including four-of-six from beyond the arc. Wyatt also shot a perfect five-of-five from the free throw line while managing to record a career-high five steals.
“He’s really a good scorer,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He know show to get the ball in position to score, whether it’s a jump shot or driving it to the rim. I can’t sit here tonight and say I was surprised by how well he played because he’s that good of a basketball player….He has these kind of games in him.”
“Coaches were telling me to come off the bench and be aggressive,” Wyatt added. “My teammates were telling me the same thing. Coming off the bench, I wanted to shoot the ball and today it was going in, so I just kept shooting.”
Senior forward Lavoy Allen continued to struggle offensively, as he put up just 10 points, but managed to record a career-high six blocks while also collecting six rebounds, including three on the offensive end. While Allen has failed to live up to offensive expectations this season, his all-around game has contributed to the team’s success, Dunphy said.
“I yell at him and wish he would do better things and be more assertive and aggressive, but Lavoy is who he is,” Dunphy said. “I think we all need to take a step back and appreciate that about him. As I say to him, and I’ve said it to him a number of times, I don’t know know where we would be without these last three years and change without him. He’s that good of a basketball player.”
Despite his team shooting 51.9 percent from the field en route to a 17 point victory, Dunphy didn’t think the Owls were dominant.
“I don’t think we played as well as Penn played,” Dunphy said. “I thought we did good things at certain times, but we didn’t play as well as the Penn guys played. I thought they played hard, they had a good plan, they defended us well, for the most part. We got lucky with Khalif having a game like he had today.”
Penn was coached by Jerome Allen, a player that started for four years underneath Dunphy during the early 90’s. The connection between the two made the victory bittersweet, Dunphy said.
“I don’t think it ever gets easy, but what it doesn’t ever get is fun,” Dunphy said. “It’s not fun. I root for him so much and root for the Penn guys because of what the school gave to me.”
“Jerome deserves a lot of credit for where they are as a basketball team and a program,” Dunphy added. “[The program] will continue to grow and he’ll make it very, very good very soon.”
Junior guard Juan Fernandez scored nine points and dished four assists in his return to the starting lineup. Regardless of the injury, Fernandez isn’t playing up to expectations, Dunphy said.
“He’s not played as well as he has in the past,” Dunphy said. “Now you’re throwing in a bone bruise in your knee that hurts. He’s a tough dude and he wants to be out there. We need him to be out there. We need him to make the adjustment to the injury.”
The win improved the Owls to 13-4 on the season and 1-1 in the Big 5. Temple’s next challenge will come in the form of Xavier on Saturday. The Musketeers haven’t lost a conference home game since Feb. 26, 2006. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org