They were a one-two knockout punch, as last year's Temple media guide called Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale.

Sometimes Christmas was the one and Tyndale the two. Sometimes vice versa. But this season there is just Christmas, and he and the Owls are finding life after Tyndale to be an exercise in patience.

Temple did not have much of that virtue last night as Christmas either drew double teams or could not get his shot to fall. The result was a disappointing loss to Miami of Ohio, 68-52, in the Owls' home opener at the Liacouras Center.

The senior guard was held to 11 points - 13 below his season average - and missed all five of his attempts from the field in the second half as the Owls fell to 3-3. Christmas, always in motion, often could not get open, and when his teammates fed him the ball a defender was often in his face.

"It's tough," Christmas said. "I've just got to find a way. . . . This is definitely a learning experience for me, personally, as well as the team."

It's going to take time for coach Fran Dunphy and his Owls to find a way to replace some of the gifts Tyndale - who was in the stands last night - brought to the team. He was the perfect complement to Christmas, often kicking it out to his wide-open teammate.

"When you have a guy like Mark, you just give him the ball and tell him to go make a play," Dunphy said. "We don't have that, so we've got to find other ways."

Opposing defenses now focus on Christmas, who made only 3 of 12 shots from the field. Ten of those attempts were from beyond the arc.

"He needs to work a little bit harder," Dunphy said. "I need to get him some more opportunities."

Despite Christmas' troubles, the Owls managed to keep the game close, even though they trailed for most of the evening. But senior-laden Miami (3-3) played extremely poised on the road, and some of that had to do with its difficult early-season schedule. The Redhawks battled UCLA and lost at Pittsburgh, then at Xavier, before traveling to Philly.

Temple, meanwhile, has a difficult stretch that starts at Penn State on Saturday, home a week later against Tennessee and then at Kansas on Dec. 20.

"We're in the soup and we have to find a way to get out of it," Dunphy said.

The Owls did have forward Lavoy Allen back in the lineup after the sophomore sat out Saturday's loss to Buffalo with a fractured left thumb. But Allen did not start and played only 16 minutes, finishing with five points.

Even if he played his regular shift, it may not have mattered the way Miami forward Michael Bramos shot it. The senior scored a game-high 26 points and seemed to hit a big shot every time the Owls pulled close. Bramos did all this while guarding Christmas for much of the game, too.

His biggest points came after Christmas and Ryan Brooks both missed three-point shots that would have cut into a 55-49. Bramos sank a trey for a 58-49 margin and then stole a Brooks pass and dunked home two for a 60-49 cushion with 1 minute, 35 seconds left.

And that was a 1-2 knockout blow.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.