On Monday, Temple forward Anthony Lee said the outcome against fifth-ranked Duke would be a barometer of how the Owls will play the rest of the season.
If so, things could go smoothly.
The undermanned Owls upset the Blue Devils, 78-73, in front of a sellout crowd Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The victory extended Temple’s winning streak to four on the season. The Owls (10-3) also snapped a 9-game losing to streak to Duke (12-2). And Temple did it without center Micheal Eric (right kneepcap injury) and swingman Scootie Randall (left knee)
Junior guard Khalif Wyatt led Temple with a game-high 22 points thanks to making 3 of 5 three-pointers. Junior forward Rahlir Jefferson (17 points), freshman Lee (13), senior guard Ramone Moore (11) and reserve sophomore guard Aaron Brown (11) were the Owls' other double-digit scorers.
Early on, it was obvious that Temple was far from intimidated by Duke.
The Owls were aggressive and had a first-half advantage in shooting percentage (59.3 to 48.3), rebounding (18 to 10) and points in the paint (26 to 22).
Hollis-Jefferson (8 first-half points), Wyatt (7) and Moore (6) had a lot to do with the Owls holding a 35-33 halftime lead.
The trio combined for 21 of Temple’s points before intermission.
And it didn’t take long to realize they would become the leaders.
Moore and Wyatt combined to score 10 of Temple first 14 points as the Owls led by three points with 13 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first half.
Then Hollis-Jefferson’s reverse layup gave them a 33-31 advantage with 2:32 before intermission. The teams went on to trade baskets as the Owls took a two-point cushion into the break.
Temple opened up a 39-33 lead after Wyatt’s long jumper early in the second half.
The Norristown High School graduate then had a layup, after stealing the ball, to give the Owls a 45-39 advantage with 15:12 to play. And Moore’s three-point extended Temple’s cushion to seven points (52-45) with 10:16 left. Less than a minute later, Wyatt’s three-pointer gave the Owls a 55-45 lead.
Then after Wyatt hit back-to-back three-pointers, Temple had 66-57 advantage with 3:37 to play.