PHILADELPHIA - It's Khalif Wyatt's world, Penn is just living in it.
The sophomore guard had his best all-around game as an Owl as Temple defeated the pesky Penn Quakers by a score of 73-56 at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday night.
Wyatt scored a career-high 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting off the bench. The Norristown product connected on four of his six three-point attempts and converted all five of his foul shots.
He also set a new personal best with five steals. It bares repeating - Wyatt was projected to be a defensive liability by many followers of the program.
His scoring effort marked the sixth time a Temple player has scored 20 or more points in a game. Wyatt became the seventh different Owl to lead the team in scoring.
It wasn't all sunshine and and lollipops for Temple as the underdog Quakers kept the game interesting for much of the first half despite only making eight field goals. They were up 16-12 with just over ten minutes to go in the first half before Temple seemingly shook the cobwebs off. Runs of 8-0 and 11-4 put the Cherry and White ahead by a score of 36-26 at half time.
Penn again proved to be up to the task early on in the second half as they were able to cut into Temple's lead several times, including getting to within five with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Much of that can be attributed to efforts of Tyler Bernardini and Jack Eggelston, who scored 17 and 15 respectively and combined for 7 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc.
Turnovers proved to be the Quakers' downfall as their 23 miscues lead to 28 points for the Owls.
Temple's quality ultimately proved to be too much for Penn as they stretched the lead to 18 in the closing minutes of the game. The only thing that was in doubt was whether or not Temple would hit the magic number of 72 so fans could trade their ticket stub in for a free Qdoba taco. A pair of Ramone Moore free-throws in the waning seconds put the Owls over the hump.
Moore scored just 12 points, three under his season average but he was a perfect 6 for 6 for the line. As a team, the Owls went 13 of 14 from the charity stripe which equated to their highest percentage (92.9) this season. The junior guard also tied his career-high with six assists.
Lavoy Allen set a career-high with six blocks. He had 10 points and six rebounds but his defense was what really stood out tonight. Any time a Quaker found himself in the paint he had Allen to deal with. The senior forward altered countless shots and provided help defense when one of his teammates was beaten off the dribble.
Juan Fernandez returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four games and had an okay outing. He scored 9 points, including a once-in-a-lifetime, no way that can be repeated turnaround three-pointer as the shot clock expired during a first-half possession. He also tallied four assists, two rebounds and a steal.
Temple travels to Cincinnati on Saturday to take on the undermanned, but still dangerous, Xavier Musketeers.
Notes: The Owls rebounded from their poor shooting game at Duquesne with a 27 of 52 (51.9 percent) effort ... Rahlir Jefferson played 19 minutes off the bench and did not attempt a single shot ... The Owls dominated the paint, scoring 32 points to Penn's 20 ... The Owls won the battle of the benches 29-2 largely due to Khalif Wyatt's 27 point night. T.J. DiLeo added the other two points on a fast break layup ... Penn dropped to 0-3 in the Big 5 while Temple even their record to 1-1 ... Despite being one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation, the Quakers actually won the battle of the boards 26-25. Both teams grabbed 11 offensive rebounds