The Owls Triumph over Tulsa for their Third Win in Four Games
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) In just his third game as an Owl, Khalif Battle had the best game of his collegiate career off the bench, finishing with 22 points and 11 boards. Battle, along with De’Vondre Perry putting up a season high 17 points, they led an aggressive Temple team to a 76-67 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
The Owls had a very efficient day shooting the ball, with 51% from the field and 38.9% from outside the arc. The main reason for today's Temple victory was their first half, which they dominated. Going into the second half up 19, it gave them some leeway for errors towards the end of the game.
Unfortunately for Temple, two of their top scorers fouled out towards the end of the game. Both Damian Dunn and Jake Forrester fouled out in less than 20 minutes of play. Both finished the game with ten points, with Jake keeping up his strong offensive streak shooting 5-6 from the field. Damian struggled to put the ball in the basket for the second straight game, shooting 3-9, but still played his usual game by getting to the free throw line eight times and converting on four.
Tulsa really struggled in the first half, only putting up 25 points. They made a strong second half push, and cut Temples lead to just seven with roughly a minute left in the game. With Damian Dunn not being in there, Coach McKie relied heavily on guards Jeremiah Williams and Khalif Battle to hit the game clinching free throws. Both guards had good games for what they were asked to do, as Battle was given the green light to the offense while Williams played lock-down defense throughout the game.
Tulsa, being the only team to defeat the 13-1 Houston Cougars, have now lost three of their last four games. After going on a six game win streak, teams have figured them out defensively as this was the first game that they have scored over 60 points in the past two weeks. Leading the team in both points and rebounds this season, senior guard Brandon Rachal was held to just 12 points and two rebounds, all in favor of Jeremiah Williams defensive presence.
Going back to the career night of Khalif Battle, Coach McKie told the media that he gave him the keys to the second unit in just his first game back, even though he hadn’t touched a basketball in months due to a hamstring injury. With Damian Dunn being in foul trouble, Khalif took control of the Owls offense, playing 32 minutes in today's victory. In his first two games, Battle struggled with efficiency. Today was the exact opposite, as he scored 22 on just ten shots. A big part of his game came from the charity stripe, where he shot 7-8, and was trusted as the main ball handler during the closing minutes of the game.
I asked Khalif what his mentality was going into their next game, after being the main part of the team's win today. He said, “Keep winning, let's win. I don’t see why we can’t keep winning. We have a lot of talent on this team, still a young group, but I think the sky's the limit for us.” Look for Coach to actively use Battle as a mentor and leader on this young Temple group for the rest of the season.
With all the schedule changes the Owls have dealt with throughout the season, they stand with a 4-4 record, putting them 7th in the AAC. As of today, Temple is scheduled to play Tulane again this Sunday, January 31st at noon Eastern Time. With a win this weekend, they would move into being .500 in conference, and hopefully pass both South Florida and Tulsa.