CINCINNATI - Temple's resurgence in recent seasons can be attributed to a suffocating man-to-man defense that forced opponents to play the way the Owls wanted them to. That trademark defense has been called into question in the Owls last three games against 'quality' opponents.
They allowed 78 points in losses to Villanova and Duquesne and a season-high 88 points in today's loss at Xavier. The last time the Owls allowed 88 points or more was way back on Dec. 9, 2007 when Nova dropped 101 on them.
The Musketeer's 11 point victory also established a new Atlantic 10 record of 35 straight conference home game victories. It is only fitting that they defeated the owner of the previous record, your Temple Owls, to set the new mark.
The A-10's second leading scorer, Tu Holloway, led the Muskies with with 21 points. The Owls did a good job of keeping him in check in the first half but sophomore Mark Lyons picked up the slack in his stead. Lyons finished the game with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting.
The Owls fell to 3-2 and 13-5 overall with the loss while Xavier improved to 5-0 to keep pace with Duquesne.
Scootie Randall's career high 28 points on 11 of 16 shooting was all for naught as the Owls simply could not get the key stops necessary to overtake the Musketeers. The Cherry and White tied the game three times in the first half and four times in the second but were simply unable to get over the hump.
Randall single-handedly kept the Owls in the game early, scoring the team's first 11 points and genuinely looking like the only player on the court for the Owls who came to the Cintas Center ready to play.
Xavier was able to keep the Owls at bay for much of the half until the junior forward hit a three-pointer with 7:10 remaining to give Temple their first lead of the game, 29-28.
A 6-0 mini-run of three straight layups by Andrew Taylor, Jamel McClean and Kenny Frease pushed the Musketeers back out in front, 34-29. The Owls ended up going into the half down just two points, 41-39, despite the fact that they simply could not stop the Musketeers in transition.
Ramone Moore tied the game at 41 on a layup coming out of the break. The Owls leading scorer had a very poor game by his standards with just 10 points on 3 of 8 shooting.
Despite not being able to get his shot, the junior guard was able to get his teammates involved as he dished five assists which tied him with Juan Fernandez for the team high.
The Owls kept the game close for the first seven minutes and change of the second half, never trailing by more than four points. Xavier then went on a 10-0 run that was capped by a Taylor layup with 11:17 remaining that put the Musketeers on top by a score of 61-51.
Just when it looked like the Owls were falling out of the game they went on a run of their own, scoring 18 points to Xavier's seven, to put them back on top by one with 5:30 remaining, 69-68.
Khalif Wyatt bookended the run with a long jumper and three-pointer. The sophomore finished the game with 19 points off the bench and is quickly becoming one of the Owls' go-to weapons.
Wyatt hit 4 of his 8 three-point attempts and went 6 for 11 overall from the field. He also went 3 for 4 from the line and grabbed two steals before fouling out after 17 minutes.
The Owls did not hold the lead for long as McLean's put back of his own miss with 5:05 remaining put the Musketeers back on top for good, 70-69. The Owls connected on only 3 of their 9 shots in the game's final five minutes while Xavier converted 12 free throws.
It has been written here countless times before but, once again, Lavoy Allen and Fernandez had subpar games for the Owls. Allen was barely a factor at all thanks to two quick fouls at the onset of both halves. In 13 minutes of action, the senior went 0 for 3 from the field and grabbed just three rebounds.
Fernandez knocked down a couple of three pointers to account for his six points and dished out five assists but he also turned the ball over four times and looked less than 100 percent physically.
Randall and Wyatt combined to shoot 17 of 28 from the floor while the rest of the team went 11 of 37.
The Owls return to the friendly confines of the Liacouras Center to face Charlotte on Wednesday night.. The 49ers are fresh off of an 83-67 loss to Duquesne and are currently 1-4 in conference play.
Notes: The Owls were outscored in the paint 42-20 ... Both teams were hot from beyond the arc as the Musketeers connected on 8 of their 13 attempts (61.5 percent) while 11 of the Owls' 25 three-point attempts were true (44 percent) ... Micheal Eric dunked the ball for possibly the first time all season