Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Temple 78, Duke 73
By Dana O'Neil
PHILADELPHIA -- A quick look at Temple's 78-73 win over No. 3 Duke:
Overview: Temple, a team coming off three straight narrow wins over Rice, Buffalo and Delaware, beat Duke for the first time since January 1996, ending a nine-game losing streak against the Blue Devils. The Owls led 35-33 at halftime and never trailed in the second half. Fran Dunphy's team has now beaten a top-10 opponent in nonconference play for the fourth straight season. On the flipside, Duke has now lost a nonconference road game to an unranked opponent for the fourth straight season.
How it happened: Well, Temple shot a blistering 56.4 percent from the field, so that certainly helped. Khalif Wyatt (8-12), Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (7-10) and Anthony Lee (6-11) combined to shoot at a 63 percent clip against the third-ranked Blue Devils, who dropped their first game since being crushed at Ohio State in late November, despite 16 points and 13 rebounds from Mason Plumlee.
Star of the game: Hollis-Jefferson was great (17 points, 6 boards, 4 assists), but Wyatt scored 22 points and was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. When Duke cut the lead to 3 late, the junior guard nailed back-to-back 3s that put the nail in the Devil's coffin. Wyatt was also a beast on the defensive end, pestering Duke with five steals. Wyatt was coming off a seven-point, 2-of-11 performance against Delaware. He picked a nice time to elevate his game.
What it means: Those who had written Temple off may have done so prematurely. The Owls (10-3), without two starters for the better part of the season, got a huge boost to their confidence as they head into conference play this weekend. Temple also has a signature win that should stand up come Selection Sunday. Meanwhile, this isn't a killer for Duke (12-2) but certainly the Devils, who rolled through easy opponents since getting blown out in Columbus, haven't solved all their riddles. Duke needs major work on the defensive end, especially against the bounce pass.
More notes: In Temple's nine-game losing streak against Duke, the Owls had never shot better than 43.5 percent in a game (average: 38.6 percent). On Wednesday night, the Owls shot 56.4 percent from the field. ... The only other Duke loss to an A-10 team under coach Mike Krzyzewski was the aforementioned Temple game in '96. The Blue Devils had been 36-1 vs. A-10 opponents under Coach K, and the loss ends their 18-game winning streak vs. Atlantic 10 opponents. ... Duke has lost six of its past eight nonconference road games, but this was the program's first loss in its past 17 regular-season neutral-site games. ... And it was only Temple's second win in its past 15 games vs. top-five opponents.
What's next: Duke opens conference play at Georgia Tech on Saturday. That should be a walkover for the Blue Devils. Temple also opens conference play on Saturday, against Dayton. The Owls are in the mix again in the A-10, which should be a wild race with the Owls, Saint Louis, Dayton, reeling Xavier and surprises such as UMass, La Salle and St. Joe's.