Temple’s defense was too much for USF as they dominate the rematch
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Holding USF to just 29% shooting, along with Khalif Battles 22 point performance, Temple runs over the Bulls with a 65-47 win.
After the 17 turnover game on Sunday, Temple flipped the switch and forced USF to have 17 this game. Point guard Jeremiah Williams anchored the defense, having two steals in the first five minutes of play. The first half ended in just a four point lead for the Owls, (34-30) and most viewers saw this game coming down to the wire.
Yet the defensive aggression that Coach McKie has preached all year was shown, and the young Owls held the Bulls to just six points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. That 24-6 run sealed the victory, as Temple had great games from their supporting cast, including senior captain J.P. Moorman finished with 10 off the bench. The other senior captain Dre Perry had 11 on the night, along with two steals on the defensive side.
Nick Jourdain was inserted into the starting five for the second game in a row, and brought great energy and athleticism to the Owls. In 30 minutes he had six points on 50% shooting, and led the team with three blocks. His progression throughout his freshman year has been great, and the rotation changes showed to work out with getting their first victory in a month.
In the three games leading scorer Damian Dunn has been out with a knee injury, Sophomore transfer from Butler has just put on a show. Totaling 75 points in the three contests, his efficiency was the only weakness. Tonight, he scored 22 points on 9-15 shooting, along with contributing six rebounds and four assists. When Damian gets healthy, the shot creating with him and Khalif, along with the defense and playmaking aspect Jeremiah brings will be lethal.
Jeremiah Williams looked way more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball, shooting 3-11 from the field, along with three assists. When asking leading scorer Khalif about Jeremiah's game, he smiled as he said, “I love playing with J-Will, that's my court general. He's a winner, and he's going to be special as time goes on. He's only a freshman doing all of this so, I can only imagine what it's going to be like during his junior and senior year.” The high praise Williams gets from his teammates and coaches shows just how important he is to this Owls team.
Temple looked to a different strategy on defense as they were up big late in the second half, as they went into their famous zone. Coach McKie claimed he wanted to use it more in their matchup on Sunday, but they were down too much to experiment with a different look. Look for the Owls to utilize this zone in upcoming games, along with years to come.
Although playing 28 minutes off the bench, senior sharpshooter Brendan Barry shot 0-4 from the field, and 0-3 from outside the arch. Luckily the team was up a lot and didn’t need his shots to fall to secure the win, but I’m hoping to see him find his shot back next game.
When asking Coach McKie what changed on the defensive side tonight compared to recent games, he said, “ I think not allowing those guys to get 17 more shots than us helps, and I think that was the difference in the last game, and the turnovers. We did a decent job of cleaning that up. Our guys, all of our guys that went out there and contributed and battled, and we just disrupted the flow of their offense and we took everything away from them.”
Staying warm in Florida, Temple is looking to continue winning this Saturday at UCF. After going on a six game win streak, and lots of matches up in the air due to COVID postpones, the Owls are going to continue playing every game like it's their last of the season.