Following a tremendous 68-64 upset over then #16 Villanova, Temple Men’s Basketball would look to keep their momentum steady. On Tuesday night, they hosted SEC opponent Vanderbilt in the 3rd of a three game homestand to open the season.
Out of the gate, the Owls had the green light on the three ball. They would make their first three 3pt attempts. Forward Zach Hicks made two of those, matching his season high for threes in a game. The Owls found themselves up 16-9 just five minutes in, shooting 62.5% from the field. Hicks would make his 3rd three ball of the half before his first sub out, matching his total coming into the game.
The Owls would start to fall into a lull offensively mid way through the first half, going into a five minute scoring drought. On the other end of the court, they would cough up an 8-0 run, blowing a 22-11 lead. Damian Dunn broke the drought with a free throw.
The Owls took advantage of Vandy’s aggressive defense, drawing 6 fouls early in the half. And they would cash in at the line, hitting 8 of their 10 free throws in the first 20 minute frame.
The contest would become a back and forth one, trading blows from the 7:27 mark on. Vanderbilt would tie the game up on three separate occasions after the Owls had picked up a double digit lead early.
At the half, we had a 37-all tie. Reigning Big 5 Player of the Week Damian Dunn led all players with 18 points on 6-7 shooting. No other player reached double digits in the first half.
Sophomore Khalif Battle only had 2 points in the first half, and was an uncharacteristic 0-5 from the floor. Battle was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday night. Temple Head Coach Aaron Mckie had a simple reason as to why:
“I just played the guys I felt wanted to be out there.”
This could be a big deal moving forward, or it could mean absolutely nothing. It will depend on how Battle responds in practice and the Owls’ next few games.
In the second half, the Owls got off to a less than ideal start, yielding the lead to Vanderbilt for the first time all night. Temple would not be deterred however, trading baskets with Vandy. Zach Hicks would pick up where he left off in the first half, drilling his 4th three ball of the game to kill the Commodores’ momentum.
The Owls would begin to get sloppy with the ball, turning it over on 3 consecutive possessions, leading to a 8-0 Commodores run. Vanderbilt would take command of the second half, rattling off consecutive three balls to give themselves an 11 point lead.
However, after a crucial timeout, the Owls would storm back. They would hit four straight threes in a four minute span. Two of those coming from Zach Hicks, who had an unreal night from beyond the 3 point line, hitting a season high six threes.
Damian Dunn also had a pair of three pointers in the second half heading into the home stretch. One of those came from the Liacouras Center logo on the right elbow. After blowing an 11 point lead in the first half, the Owls would blow Vanderbilt’s 13 point second half lead.
After a Liam Robbins and 1 basket and free throw for Vanderbilt, Damian Dunn would once again hit a big 3 point basket to make it a one score game. Down 76-74, Zach Hicks would make a pair of clutch free throws to tie the game at 76 and force overtime.
The fans at the Liacouras Center were treated to free Qdoba tacos (whenever the Owls score 76 points) and some free basketball for the second time this season.
Vanderbilt quickly jumped out to a 9-4 run in the overtime period. The Owls however would continue to show the same fight that got them to OT.
Damian Dunn hit another crucial three to keep it close. Then he goes down the floor in transition after a poor Vanderbilt 3pt attempt. Dunn would draw the foul on the subsequent basket. The and 1 free throw gave the Owls their first lead since the 1:19 mark of the first half.
Unfortunately, the late rallies in both regulation and overtime were not enough for the Owls, as they would fall 89-87. They are now 1-2 on the season, a tough break considering both losses came at home in overtime against beatable opponents.
By The Numbers
This is the first time Temple Men’s Basketball lost consecutive overtime games since the 2013-14 season.
The Owls were outscored 48-22 in the paint.
Temple’s bench was also outscored 32-5.
Damian Dunn hit 13 of the Owls’ 29 shots.
Dunn’s 38 points in 41 minutes Tuesday night marks a career high for the redshirt sophomore. It’s the most for any Owl since David Hawkins in 2004
“Dame was great. I felt bad because I was trying to get him out of the game, get him a little blow, but I said “man, I need you.” We had to keep him out on the floor. I thought he was outstanding, on both ends of the floor.”Temple Men’s Basketball Head Coach Aaron Mckie
After 3 straight to start the season at the Liacouras Center, Temple men’s basketball heads on the road. First in Connecticut vs Rutgers in the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase on Friday.
Next Week, the Owls head to Brooklyn to be part of the 2022 Empire Classic. They’ll take on St. John’s in their first matchup Monday, then either Syracuse or Richmond the following day.