Temple tramples St. Joe's

Temple's Rahlir Jefferson (right) tries to strip the ball from St. Joseph's Idris Hilliard during the first half at the Liacouras Center.

The Temple basketball team had a few issues before last night's 73-46 rout of Atlantic Ten rival St. Joseph's at the Liacouras Center.

Not only were the 21st-ranked Owls coming off a blowout loss at home to top-ranked Kansas, but star forward Lavoy Allen was benched at the start of the contest for being late to a film session, and top gun Ryan Brooks' status at game time was uncertain because of a stomach virus.

Somehow, it all added to up to a blowout win for the Owls, who registered the largest margin of victory in the series between the teams since Temple won by 32 in 1985 at the Palestra.

With a crowd of 6,103 watching the conference opener for both squads, Temple never trailed.

The Owls, who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped by Kansas, improved to 12-3. St. Joe's, which dropped its third straight, and ninth in the last 10 games, fell to 4-9.

"We played well enough defensively to get some separation," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, whose team turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 51-33 advantage with just under 10 minutes left to play.

Allen, who sat out the first eight minutes as punishment for his tardiness earlier in the day, wound up leading all scorers with 20 points to go with 11 rebounds.

"The way he played, we might want to think about having him come late every game," Dunphy said.

"I was a little bit under the weather," Brooks said. "But I wanted to go out and play. I was able to gain some energy from [it being] against St. Joe's . . . Big Five . . . A-10."

Meanwhile, 6-foot-11 forward Michael Eric, who nearly doubled his season average with six quick points to help Temple jump out to an early lead, reached his career high with 13 points.

Eric had been in and out of the lineup after suffering a sprained knee Nov. 24 against Ball State. He made up for the absence of Allen at the outset against St. Joes.

"I was happy for Mike," Dunphy said. "He gave us what we needed early. It was important."

The Owls have taken six in a row from the Hawks, who went six minutes without a field goal early in the second half. When guard Chris Prescott broke the drought with a three-pointer from the top of the key, St. Joe's was facing a 45-32 deficit with 13 minutes, 19 seconds to go.

After falling behind by 18-11 in the first half, St. Joe's rallied as forward Todd O'Brien and Garrett Williamson combined for five points to pull the Hawks to within 22-18 at the 5:18 mark.

But Temple regained control and went into the last 51.5 seconds up by 31-24.

After Prescott missed a jumper from the top of the key with 23.3 seconds showing on the clock, Temple called a time-out, then got a three-point play from Allen with six seconds left.

Temple led by 34-24 at the break, the Owls' largest lead to that point.

The first meeting between Temple and St. Joes did not count in the Big Five standings. The teams meet again on Feb. 20 at the Palestra.

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com