A convincing Owls victory Sunday, 77-65 over USF continued their push for a bid into the NCAA Tournament, a fifth straight ‘W’ and dominating defense lifting the squad to 16-8on the year.
Even when including SMU(which isfacing a postseason ban), Temple finds itself atop the American Conference standings (10-3) after winning eightof its last ninegames.
On Valentines DayJaylen Bond unleashed his beast mode against the Bulls, nabbing 14rebounds and scoring 18points to post a double double.
“I was able to get some easy shots and easy layups today,” Bond said after the game.
ObiEnechionyia also had 18points while Josh Brown scored 11 along with 9assists. Conference player of the year candidate Quenton DeCosey had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Even a 1-for-14 slump late in the first half didn’t diminish Temple’s lead after a 34-19 start (and 78 percent mark from the field). After the first 20 minutes, Temple was ahead 40-31.
South Florida chipped the lead down to just four before the Owls were able to up it back to 15 once again in thesecond half, taking advantage of 20 USF turnovers. In all, TU outscored the Bulls 27-5 off turnovers.
However, head coach Fran Dunphystill knows there is room to improve.
“I didn’t think our defense was great throughout,” the coach told CBSSports after the game,”but we got the win and that’s the most important thing.”
Even though USF shot a higher percentage from the field (55.1 percent for South Florida, 47.8 for Temple) the opportunistic defense was the difference in the Owls’ 16th win.
The focus now shifts to a huge non-conference battle later this week when No. 1 Villanova visits the Liacorous Center. The Owls were able to avoid a trap game by not looking too far forward.
“I think these guys understood the routine,” Dunphy said.”We had to concentrate our efforts here.”