Something about playing unheralded teams usually brings out Temple's unflattering side.
Maybe it's hard to get up for teams the Owls are expected to beat. Whatever the cause, Temple has a knack for playing to the level of its competition. It cost the Owls on Wednesday night.
Canisius, of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, upset Temple, 72-62, in a Gotham Classic game at the Liacouras Center. The Golden Griffins were 111/2-point underdogs.
The loss dropped the Owls to 8-2 and snapped their 11-game home winning streak. Temple's last home loss was to Dayton on Jan. 12.
But why is a program with five straight NCAA tournament appearances struggling against teams from the MAAC or the Colonial Athletic Conference?
"I don't know," Owls guard Khalif Wyatt said with a dazed look. "Maybe we are not where we need to be right now. We are going to keep going at it game by game."
The Owls settled for too many three-pointers even though they weren't falling, and their inability to maintain a lead doomed them.
They made just 4 of 28 three-point attempts. Most of the long-range shots came early in possessions.
"It wasn't like we were driving and kicking it out very well tonight," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "So we will look at it on the film, and we will see some shots that we rushed and others that we didn't take advantage.
"We got out of character a little bit and it cost us."
Scootie Randall had the roughest night, going 1 for 12 from long range. The fifth-year senior guard finished with seven points on 3-for-16 shooting.
"It's a struggle right now," said Randall, who is a combined 3 for 27 on three-pointers in the last four games.
At time, Randall looked a little reluctant before shooting the ball.
"I thought there were two pretty good looks at threes I thought he gave up," Dunphy said. "And there were a couple of others that he absolutely rushed. But if you are not making shots, then find other ways to help your team."
Rhode Island transfer Billy Baron helped Canisius (8-2) by dishing the ball and being a leader on the court. He is the son of Golden Griffins coach Jim Baron. He followed his father to Canisius when Jim Baron was fired as Rhode Island's coach after last season.
The junior point guard paced Canisius with 19 points and five assists.
The Owls kept opening comfortable cushions only to have the Golden Griffins get back into the game. Then Baron's jumper with 4 minutes, 12 seconds left gave Canisius the lead for good at 59-58.