— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) December 22, 2017
ATHENS, Ga. — Temple’s inability to defend inside and hit from the outside during a frustrating first half made its third game against a Southeastern Conference basketball school this season much different from its first two.
The Owls trailed 42-23 at halftime and never made a serious second-half run during their 84-66 loss to Georgia on Friday afternoon at Stegman Coliseum. In the first half, Temple shot 8 for 26 from the field and Georgia was 15 for 29.
“We weren’t hitting shots and it took a lot of energy off the other side of the court,” said Temple point guard Josh Brown, who had five points, four assists, and three turnovers before fouling out. “We have to learn from that and come back better next time,”
Temple (7-4) now heads into its American Athletic Conference schedule with mixed results from its non-league games.
“It’s been a roller coaster really, just up and down,” said senior forward Obi Enechionyia, who scored a career-high 27 points and shot 7 of 9 from three-point range.“We lost to some teams we should have beaten and won some good games. So I think that just lets us know we can keep up with anybody and when we play like we know we can, we can win any game.”
The Owls had solid wins over SEC teams Auburn and South Carolina, but this loss and the convincing manner in which it came is a setback for a Temple team looking to build its NCAA resume.
Georgia (9-2), with losses to San Diego State and Massachusetts, didn’t generate much preseason hype.
In fact, of the three SEC teams Temple has played, none drew high preseason expectations. Georgia was eighth in the SEC preseason poll. Auburn, which has suffered its only loss to Temple, was ninth and South Carolina 11th.
That doesn’t mean that these aren’t solid teams, or couldn’t earn their way into the Big Dance, but all three have work to do to impress the NCAA selection committee. So does Temple.
The Owls simply couldn’t stop 6-8 senior Yante Maten, but the rest of the SEC has faced similar difficulty.
Maten, who entered the game averaging 19.2 points and 9 rebounds and is the active SEC career leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots, had 15 points and seven rebounds by intermission, doing most of his damage inside. He finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
Georgia also outrebounded Temple 48-30 and was 28 for 39 from the foul line compared to 4 of 13 for the Owls. The Owls
“We wanted to go inside on them,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said.
Temple also was hurt in the first half because leading scorer Quinton Rose was held scoreless, missing all five first-half shots and committing three turnovers. Rose ended with 13 points in the second half.
Temple is now idle until hosting Tulane on Thursday as it opens play in the American Athletic Conference, where the Owls will look for more consistency and less of that roller-coaster ride.