(PHILADELPHIA, PA) With a final score of 81-64, most people would be shocked to know it was 46-46 with 13 minutes remaining in the game. With five players scoring double digits for the Green Wave, and Temple looking very unorthodox on both sides of the court, this game got out of hand fast, leading to a huge win for Tulane.
The best way to describe this game for the Owls is in the words of Coach McKie. “I figured if we go into some switching, we will be able to keep those guys out of the paint, keep them from getting to the basket and none of it worked. We threw some zones out there, none of it worked. They had our number today, and we just didn’t do a good job of guarding them.” For a Coach that praises good shot selections, ball movement and high intensity defense, he seemed very underwhelmed by his teams performance.
A player everyone was expecting to have another big game was Khalif Battle. Having back to back career games, he was carrying a heavy load for Temple on the offensive side of the ball. Today, lots of his shots looked forced, along with being early in the shot clock and not letting his teammates get situated. Battle finished with just eight points on 13 shots, in 33 minutes of play. Coach gave him the green light to run the offense when he is in, but the Owls are going to need more ball movement rather than isolation plays if they are going to succeed.
Let's look at the upside of today for Temple. This was a game many projected them to win, yet the young Owls didn’t come to play. Senior captain J.P. Moorman said after the game that right from the opening tipoff the team looked and played out of sync. He then explained that games like this are teaching moments for the younger guys, and knowing that no matter who the opponent is, they have to go into every game with a full head of steam. Going up against a 3-7 Cincinnati team next week, I am sure that these guys will put this game behind them and come back aggressive.
Another upside to this game was the performance of freshman point guard Jeremiah Williams. Although shooting 1-6, his defense and playmaking kept them in this game. In 35 minutes of play, he contributed a team high nine assists, along with 11 rebounds. To any NBA fans out there, his game is very similar to Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray. He is a slow paced guard, who continuously moves the ball and attacks the defensive glass every play. Only being a freshman, he has room to grow on the offensive side of the ball, but his hustle and aggressiveness will make him a problem for years to come.
Jake Forrester stayed out of foul trouble! Something we haven’t been able to say much this year, especially how just last game he fouled out. Jake finished the day with 15 points and nine rebounds, and every time he got the ball in the low post he was dominant. What is unfortunate about Jake is that he is a liability at the end of games due to his poor free throw shooting.
Speaking of free throw shooting, the team as a whole shot 63.2% from the line. This is something Coach McKie really emphasized that they need to get better at.
For the Green Wave, starting guard Jordan Walker was able to control the game with his ball handling and passing ability. It seemed like with one Tim Hardaway crossover, he was able to get into the middle and have easy jumpers all day long. Along with his tight handles, Temple didn’t seem to have any help defense, which allowed Tulane to convert on many isolation situations. Walker finished second in scoring on the Wave with 15, and added eight assists to the stat sheet. Just ahead of him was guard Jaylen Forbes, who put up 23 points and eight assists. Temple just had no answer for Tulane's backcourt, and compared to their defense in past games, today was difficult to watch.
Temple is looking to bounce back this Thursday, February 4th against the Cincinnati Bearcats. With both teams at the bottom of the AAC, and coming off a loss, this will be a high energy, must win game for both crews.