As a coach, you want nothing more than for your seniors to play at their best in their last home game. Fran Dunphy can proudly say his five seniors gave it their all in the Owls’ 84-76 win Sunday afternoon over No. 21 VCU.
Temple’s five seniors — Khalif Wyatt, Scootie Randall, Rhalir Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. DiLeo, Jake O’Brien — combined for 71 of the team’s 84 points. Wyatt, the leading candidate for A-10 player of the year, notched 30 points while shooting 13-of-16 from the free-throw line.
O’Brien and Randall brought the whiteout-themed crowd to its feet, combining for eight 3-pointers. O’Brien had 19 points, with Randall adding 13.
“Jake O’Buckets [O’Brien] did his thing,” said Dunphy. “His points for shot are incredible, but he’s done that all year. He can really score the ball.”
The victory marked Temple’s last regular-season win as a member of the A-10 conference. The Owls finish with an all-time record of 376-172.
VCU (24-7) was led by Juvonte Reddic’s 20 points and nine rebounds. Treveon Graham added 17 points, while also pulling down seven boards. VCU is known for its “Havoc” defense, which speeds up its opponents into making turnovers. Coach Shaka Smart felt like the Owls just had a stronger desire to win at the end of the day.
“Temple coming into this game wanted it really, really bad,” said Smart. “They had a lot on the line with Senior Day, NCAA tournament talk, a bye in the A-10 tournament and they played with that level of urgency, and we did not match that level of urgency.”
Temple won’t be satisfied until they are guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s not up to us, but I would like to think so,” said Wyatt. “We still have a lot of basketball to play. We’re going to Brooklyn on Friday and try to keep winning games, and let the committee do their job.”
VCU’s Smart reflects on Chaney
John Chaney and the 1987-88 Owls were honored at halftime for the 25th anniversary since being ranked No. 1 in the country. VCU coach Shaka Smart had plenty to say about Chaney.
“Coach Chaney’s one of my favorite coaches of all-time,” he said. “When I was a young assistant coach, just getting in the business, I got the chance to spend a little time around him. He did a great job building men.
“Sometimes, so much is made of winning and losing — and he won a ton of games, but the most important thing is that we [the coaches] are moving these players forward as people and nobody did it better than coach Chaney.”