NEW YORK – Khalif Wyatt scored 33 points and Anthony Lee added 21 to lead Temple to an 83-79 victory over third-ranked Syracuse in Saturday's Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.
This win enabled the Owls (9-2) to defeat a Top 10 team for the fifth consecutive season. In the process, Temple handed the Orange (10-1) its first loss of the season. Syracuse also had its 52-game regular-season, non-conference winning streak snapped.
Wyatt, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, made 15 of 15 foul shots. Six of his foul shots came with Temple clinging to small lead in the final minute.
The Norristown native was named the game's most outstanding player.
In addition to his 21 points, Lee had nine rebounds and two blocks in 38 minutes. The sophomore center was also clinch from the foul line, converting 11 of 14.
As a team, Temple made 29 of 36 free throws. Syracuse struggled from the foul line, making just 19 of 34.
Forward C.J. Fair led Syracuse with 25 points.
Riding Wyatt and Jake O'Brien, were able to battle back from an early 24-14 deficit.
The two combined to scored all of Temple's points in an 10-2 run that pulled the Owls within two points with 7 minutes, 40 seconds before intermission. O'Brien sandwiched eight points – including two three-pointers – around Wyatt's layup during the run.
Shortly afterward, Wyatt single-handed kept the Owls competitive for the rest of the half. The Norristown product scored 10 of Temple's final 12 points as it trailed 40-38 at the break.
The Owls opened the second with a 13-2 run to take a 51-42 cushion after Wyatt's three foul shots with 15:25 to play.
The Orange went on to knot the score to three times. The third tie made it a 59-59 game on Baye Keita's layup with 10:24 remaining.
However, Scootie Randall made two three-pointers during the Owls' 11-3 run to make it a 70-62 game with 7:51 left.
The Orange closed the gap to one point (74-73) on Michael Carter-Williams' foul shot with 1:20 remaining.
But Wyatt (six) and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (two) went to make eight foul shots to give Temple an 82-77 lead with 14.3 seconds left. Then Quenton DeCosey added one to give the Owls an 83-79 cushion with 8.7 seconds left.
Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock