Temple earned revenge from two weeks ago and in doing so, kept its NCAA hopes very much alive.
With Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose combining for 47 points, Temple defeated Tulsa, 84-73, on Saturday at the Liacouras Center.
Temple not only avenged a 76-58 loss at Tulsa on Feb 9, but it also improved to 20-7 and 10-4 in the American Athletic Conference with four games left in the regular season. It was the ninth 20-win season in coach Fran Dunphy’s 13 seasons with the Owls.
The Golden Hurricane, which played without leading scorer and rebounder DaQuan Jeffries because of injury, are now 16-12 and 6-9.
In that earlier loss at Tulsa, Alston and Rose combined to shoot 6-for-26 in totaling 23 points.
Saturday was a much different story, with the two shooting a combined 16-for-32, as Alston scored 24 and Rose 23. Nate Pierre-Louis added 14 points for the Owls. Tulsa’s Martins Igbanu and Curran Scott each scored a team-high 15 points.
Temple led, just 31-20, at halftime but scored 53 points in the second half, shooting 20 of 34 from the field and 6 of 13 from three-point range over the final 20 minutes.
“We started ball-screening the zone, coming off trying to find teammates, that was the biggest adjustment we made,” said Alston, who also had seven assists, giving him 389 for his career and tying him for ninth on the all-time Temple list with Jim McLoughlin and Josh Brown. “And Q attacking from the baseline, that also helped.”
Q is Rose, who had some authoritative dunks off the zone.
“They were trying to run us off the three-point line and we used that to our advantage to attack the basket,” said Rose, entered the game a 65.4 percent free throws shooter but hit all seven of his foul shots.
When on their games, Rose and Alston are a difficult duo to stop.
“Rose and Shizz are as good as there are in the country, in terms of their guards and backcourt, and they kind of took over the gamen the second half,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said.
Leading up to the game, ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi suggested the Owls would have to go 4-1 in their last five games to stay in the realistic NCAA picture. The Owls’ next game is Tuesday at Memphis.
Holding a 66-59 lead, the Owls put the game away by going on a 12-2 run that ended when Rose’s two free throws increased the lead to 78-61 with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left.
Unlike the first meeting, Temple this time adapted well to Tulsa’s matchup zone.
“We wanted to push the ball in transition, so they couldn’t set up the zone,” Alston said.
Temple played its second straight game without center Ernest Aflakpui, out with a knee injury. Justyn Hamilton, who scored 10 points in just under 21 minutes off the bench, helped to pick up the slack in Aflakpui’s absence.