TEMPLE LED by 13 points after 17 minutes Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center against Fairleigh Dickinson, which is tied with Ohio State for being the third-youngest team in Division I, hadn't won on the road and just lost by 30 at Princeton.

By halftime, the margin was a deuce.

The Owls, whose three losses have all been to ranked opponents, were up 16 with 1:30 to go. That was before the Knights scored eight straight and even forced the Owls to call a timeout with 20 seconds showing when they couldn't inbound the ball from under their basket.

So despite a 79-70 win - their second straight, both at home - that evened their record at 3-3, was coach Fran Dunphy disappointed with the way his guys closed out each half?

"Sure," he said. "Wouldn't you be? . . . I'm always nervous. One of our student-athletes went the wrong way (on the inbounds attempt). We urged him not to do that anymore.

"We had a couple of really good stretches in the game. We need to feed off that. I wanted us to handle their pressure a little better than we did. But we played with poise for the most part."

Fair enough.

On Saturday, the Owls will try to get above .500 for the first time at Wisconsin (5-3), which won in overtime at Syracuse. Eight months ago, the Badgers beat Kentucky in the national semifinals.

"We definitely had some mental lapses, at both ends," said senior forward Jaylen Bond, who made all six of his field goals in the second half to finish with 18 points. "We can't have them with some of the big teams we've got coming up."

Next week, they're at Penn before hosting Saint Joseph's.

"We have to be smart, make better decisions," Bond went on. "We just have to take care of our advantages."

Against the Knights (2-6), that meant getting the ball inside, which they finally did. It made a difference.

"Their tallest guy was about 6-6," Bond said. "We got some easy buckets . . . We have to figure out what everyone does best. Different guys are going to show up on different nights."

That's what can happen when you have a new point guard and have two promising freshmen coming off the bench.

Senior guard Quenton DeCosey got 13 of his 22 in the second half and had a team-high eight rebounds. He and Bond went a combined 15-for-22 from the floor. Their teammates were 10-for-31. Josh Brown had career bests of seven assists and four blocks. The Owls did have 14 turnovers, double their national-best average. But they had 15 more boards (39-24) and shot 28 free throws, making 25. They had 14 more points at the foul line, which helped offset going 4-for-19 from deep.

The Knights, who have 11 sophomores and freshmen and no seniors, got 29 points from swingman Earl Potts Jr., who just won Northeast Player of the Week honors. But Potts, who was 6-for-8 from three before fouling out near the end, didn't do very much of his damage when the Owls were making their decisive move. He still left an impression.

"Every time we lost him for a split second, he took advantage," Dunphy said.

Mike Holloway, a 6-7 first-year man from Schalick High School in South Jersey, started and had seven points and four boards in 26 minutes for the Knights.

"We just made some mistakes we can't make," said DeCosey, who made one of his two threes, but went 7-for-7 on freebies. "We've got to be aggressive (on defense) and switch harder. We have to make our corrections.

"I tried to make (better) selection with my shots, just try to let the game come to me more. Everyone wants to contribute. Some guys maybe think it's mostly about scoring. It's not."

Saturday is another big-time opportunity. You get only so many.

On Twitter: @mikekerndn