LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It wasn’t always pretty for Temple in its battle against Texas A&M at the Orlando Invitational on Friday.
Owls coach Aaron McKie knows, however, there are no points for style, so he’ll take what he can get. Eventually, he liked what he saw as Temple pulled away and beat the Aggies, 65-42, at HP Field House.
“We’re a work in progress, and I’ll take it,” McKie said. “Typically, this time of year your defense is a little ahead of your offense. But at some point we have to start making more open shots, and we certainly got some good looks.”
Temple’s Quinton Rose took advantage of some of his looks and was a force on both ends of the floor. Rose had struggled in the tournament opener against Maryland and only scored 9 points. On Friday, he was much more in the flow and he scored 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, which included making 2-of-5 three-pointers. He also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“It was a more open game. They didn’t play any zone. It was more man-to-man,” McKie said. “[Rose] is much more comfortable playing with the ball in his hands and trying to beat guys off the bounce than playing against the zone.”
The two teams slugged it out, blow for blow, in the early stages until Temple finally started to gain some separation. After an 11-2 spurt that pulled A&M to within 40-35 with 10 minutes, 26 seconds left, Temple started to pick up the pace. J.P. Moorman, Rose and Alani Moore II all had three-pointers during the Owls’ own 11-0 clip that pretty much put the game out of reach with the Owls pulling ahead, 51-35.
“Yesterday I struggled making shots, but I just tried to impact the game in other ways,” Rose said. “Rebounding, finding my teammates, just playing hard on defense. … Today I just kept that same energy, and shots fell today.”
While the offense was clicking, the defense was also doing its part, and the Owls shut down A&M during the latter stage of the game. The Aggies made just one field goal during a stretch of a little more than five minutes and scored just five points in the last 10 minutes.
“We just dug in for those few minutes, especially defensively, dug in and got stops, rebounded and we just preached getting good shots on offense and that’s what we did," McKie said. "Guys bought in, and that’s what happened.”
Temple hit nearly 48 percent (11-of-23) of its shots in second half and ended up at 44 percent for the game. Overall, it was enough to get Temple to 5-1 on the young season. But McKie knows the Owls have some work to do.
“We got complacent and careless with the ball, as we do in spots in games, and I always tell these guys, ‘Ball security is so important to us. Just take care of the ball,’ ” McKie said of his team, which had 12 turnovers. “We had a couple of live ball turnovers and [Texas A&M] got energized behind that and got back in the game. But we were poised enough to get some separation and make our run down the stretch.”
And as much as Temple was hitting shots, the defense played an even larger part in A&M’s frustration. The Aggies shot just 22.4 percent from the field (13-of-58).
“We’re going to play defense no matter what. That’s what we hang our hats on,” Rose said. “We know some games shots are going to fall. Some games they’re not. But we know we can play defense and bring that every day.”
Temple will face Davidson, a winner over Fairfield on Friday, in Sunday’s third-place game, which will tip off at 4 p.m.