The Orange travel to Madison Square Garden for their third game inside the Chevrolet Gotham Classic…
Despite ripping off an 8-1 record, the Owls had built up their lofty mark with a good deal of uneven basketball against mostly overmatched teams. On Wednesday, Temple's willingness to settle for three-pointers – often well-defended and early in the shot clock – and failure to match up well defensively in transition resulted in an ugly 72-62 loss to Canisius (8-2) in a Gotham Classic game.
Temple shot just 4-of-28 on threes, with leading scorers Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall going a combined 1-for-18 behind the arc. Take away Jake O'Brien's 3-of-4 and the rest of the Owls were 1-for-24.
"We've got some good jump shooters who have a lot of confidence ," said Wyatt, who hit a couple runners and finished with 17 points. "Everybody loves the shot if it's going in and hates the shot if it's not going in. We just have to do what we do well. Shots will start falling and we'll be fine. We're not where we need to be right now."
The problems on the offensive end seemed to carry over to the defensive side of the ball as the Golden Griffins were often able to find their shooters in transition. They hit 10-of-21 on three-pointers, including 7-of-12 in the second half.
"We knew coming into the game that's their game plan, get into transition and spot up for threes," said sophomore guard Will Cummings, who scored a career-high 10 points. "They made it difficult for us to find all the shooters, because all of the guards have the ability to knock down shots, and they did tonight.
"When you're not playing your best basketball, you're liable to get beat any game. We just have to keep working through it, keep practicing and get out of slumps. What it comes down to is making plays for each other on offense and getting stops on defense."
Temple coach Fran Dunphy admitted many of the three-pointers seemed forced, while also acknowledging the Owls are a three-point shooting team who will need to hit their share to win games like they have coming up Saturday against No. 3 Syracuse in Madison Square Garden.
"There were a number (of threes that were forced), and there were a few we passed up and it wasn't like we were driving and kicking well," said Dunphy. "I can't say it's overly surprising because of the way we've been playing. We've been escaping with some wins, but we haven't been playing well. I thought we played a decent first half today and would have felt better if we played the same way in the second half.
"We're going to need perimeter shooting against these guys on Saturday, because that's what they make you do and we're not shooting it really well right now."
Despite their offense struggles, the Owls took a one-point lead on an Anthony Lee dunk with 5:59 to go, but missed three-pointers on their next two possessions and Billy Baron – son of Canisius coach Jim Baron – created space for a jumper that put the Golden Griffins ahead, 59-58, then hit a three to push the lead to four.
Baron scored 19 points, leading four Golden Griffin players in double figures.
"We weren't playing well, but got the lead back and had two open looks, maybe a little rushed," said Dunphy. "Khalif had one that was too deep and a little rushed.
"Baron controlled the game. He's a three-point jump shooter who took two three-pointers and one was a dagger."
Temple missed 12 of its next 13 shots after Lee's dunk until Jake O'Brien hit a jumper with six seconds remaining with the outcome long since decided.
"They just made shots in the second half and we didn't," said Wyatt. "That's what it came down to."
O'Brien might have been the lone bright spot. He hit 5-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 on threes and scored 14 points in just 15 minutes. Dunphy admitted the transfer from Boston University should have been on the floor more.
"If I had it to do over again, I'd have found a way to get (O'Brien more minutes)," said Dunphy. "That's certainly on me. Jake's got 14 points in 15 minutes and on seven shot attempts, which is a pretty good pace of scoring, where the rest of us need to shoot better shots."
Khalif Wyatt/Will Cummings:
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