Temple looked like a different team from its first seven games on Saturday night in a 64-54 loss to Missouri at the Liacouras Center. A season high in turnovers, nearly another in personal fouls, and Temple’s worst three-point shooting game in five years gave the Owls (6-2) their first loss at home this season.
Desperate teams are often the most dangerous, and Missouri (5-4) was certainly desperate. The Tigers had lost three games in a row, most recently at home to Charleston Southern, and needed a non-conference road win. Missouri made crucial shots down the stretch and forced Temple into uncharacteristic mistakes all game.
The Tigers led by as many as nine points in the first half and led by six at halftime after making three of their final four three-point shots to close out the half. The Owls created a 10-0 run early in the second half to take their first lead since the game’s opening minutes. After going 0-for-9 in the first half, Monty Scott hit Temple’s first three to spark the go-ahead run.
It remained a one-score game for most of the second half until, once again, errors got the best of Temple. The Owls committed five fouls and turned the ball over five more times in the final six minutes.
Javon Pickett, who led Missouri with 16 points, and Dru Smith, who had 12, made crucial shots and free throws down the stretch as the Tigers closed the game on a 15-2 run.
Quinton Rose led Temple with 16 points but was 7-for-19 from the floor. J.P. Moorman was the only starter to hit a three as Rose, Moorman, guard Nate Pierre-Louis, and guard Alani Moore combined to hit 1 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc.
Keys to the game
Missouri came into the game shooting 25.4% from three, ranked 338th of 353 NCAA teams. Temple’s defense was willing to allow open looks from beyond the arc and the Tigers shot 8-of-29 (27.6%). However, the Owls stole the show in poor shooting by hitting just 2-of-21 3-pointers (9.5%). That is the Owls’ worst three-point shooting performance since they were 1-for-12 (8.3%) in a 74-54 loss to Duke on Nov. 21, 2014.
Temple played its sloppiest game of the season by far against Missouri. The Owls’ 19 turnovers were a season-high and 22 personal fouls tied the season mark. Temple also allowed 13 second-chance points and lost the steals battle for the first time all season, grabbing six while giving up eight.
Starting point guard Alani Moore came into Saturday’s game playing the second-most minutes on the team behind Quinton Rose with 31.6 per game. After the loss in which Moore played 33 minutes and shot 0-for-5 from the field, head coach Aaron McKie said that he wants to reduce his playing time. That won’t get easier as freshman point guard Josh Pierre-Louis sat out his second-consecutive game on Saturday. His status is uncertain for Tuesday against Saint Joseph’s.
“They didn’t really pressure us, we were just careless with the ball. I don’t know what it was, it was a team effort … Maybe it was a lack of focus. We’ll figure out out, though." -- Rose on the Owls’ turnover issues.
"We started the game like that, turning the ball over. We were just careless with the ball. We started the game like that and it just snowballed on us. They were a good defensive team coming in. ... I thought we got some good looks, we just need to be more confident and knock those shots down.” -- McKie on Temple’s offensive struggles.
“Obviously I think it’s been on all our minds. I think it’s something that need to fuel us. I think we did a good job today using that as fuel and just coming out and playing hard.” -- Dru Smith on Missouri’s home loss to Charleston Southern of the Big Sky Conference on Tuesday.
Temple has to get better at shooting, particularly from three-point range. The Owls haven’t shot above 37% from three in any game this season, yet they are taking an average of 25 threes per game. From the field, Temple is hitting just 38.6% of their shots. The Owls’ defense has carried them to multiple wins this season but Saturday night showed that their offensive struggles can be too much.
Temple will jump back into Big-5 play on Tuesday night with a home battle against Saint Joseph’s. A non-conference loss on an extraordinarily sloppy night won’t be a back-breaker but it will be important for Temple to take care of business against the 2-8 Hawks and get back on track.