Temple’s shooting has been a problem all season, but one masked by great defensive efforts that have pulled out gutsy victories at times.
On Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center, there was no covering it up. The Owls looked lifeless on offense and fell to Tulane, 65-51. The Green Wave (10-6, 2-2 American Athletic Conference), featuring 11 newcomers after going winless in the AAC last season, dominated Temple.
Temple (9-6, 1-3) got out to another slow start, something of a habit for Aaron McKie’s team. But unlike Tuesday’s 78-74 home loss to Houston, there was no second-half comeback, as an 11-point deficit ballooned to as many as 19 with less than 10 minutes to play.
Senior wing Quinton Rose, who was 4-of-12 from the field for 12 points, was the only Temple player to score in double figures. The Owls found the shots they wanted all game but consistently missed lightly contested layups and open three-point shots. Jordan Walker and Teshaun Hightower each scored 17 points for Tulane, while K.J. Lawson added 16. Four of Tulane’s five starters played 33 minutes or more, and only seven players saw the floor.
Against Houston, the Owls’ inability to keep up on the boards doomed them from the start. Against, Tulane, it was simply shooting. Temple entered the game ranked second in the conference in opponents’ average field-goal percentage (37.6%) and three-point percentage (28.6%).
But Tulane made 44.4% of its field goals, while Temple managed just 31.5%, both on 54 attempts. The Green Wave are the best in the conference at hitting threes and showed it by knocking down 36% of its attempts to Temple’s 20.8%. The Owls simply couldn’t keep up offensively and hurt themselves with 18 turnovers.
Temple was without Jake Forrester, the sophomore transfer from Indiana who has established himself as the starting center, who sat out with a groin injury. He is day to day, McKie said. In his place, redshirt freshman Arashma Parks made his first career start, and junior Justyn Hamilton saw his second-most minutes of the season. The pair combined to shoot 3-of-6 from the field for 10 points but couldn’t fill Forrester’s role offensively.
“The name of the game is putting the ball in the hole, and we’re struggling with that. We’re getting good looks, the ball is just not getting in. We’re playing like a finesse team on the offensive side. ... We’ve got a team where we should be attacking the paint and getting to the free-throw line.” –– McKie, on what’s wrong with the offense.
“It’s up to us. We need to figure out what’s going on with us right now." –– junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis.
Saturday was one of a handful of games in which Temple players came off the court frustrated, insisting they were getting the looks they wanted but the shots weren’t falling. Each time, they have explained that getting back in the gym and putting up shots will right the ship. It hasn’t happened yet.