MHERST, Mass. - Back when the Temple Owls were all by themselves at practice, before the season began, their coach, John Chaney, would tell them, "Your enemy is not the opposition. Your enemy is you. You have so many weaknesses as a person, as a player. You must overcome your own weakness."
These days, the Temple Owls are roaming around the Atlantic Ten looking for a game. Their opposition had better be themselves. Lately, the A-10 teams they've faced haven't been up to it.
Monty Mack and teammates were thwarted by the Temple zone defense.
Last night's 75-48 victory over Massachusetts turned out to be no different. Massachusetts had won four of five games. The Mullins Center has always been a tough place for Temple. But this was the worst loss UMass has ever suffered in this building, which opened in 1993.
After his team was badly outshot and outrebounded, Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint offered his assessment of how he sees Chaney's team.
"I think this is the best team he's had since that Final Eight team with Tim Perry and Howard Evans," Flint said.
Even Chaney, who admits to being the sort of coach who would rather say nothing at all than come up with something nice about his team, has been forced to praise this group.
"They've put up a stop sign," Chaney said. "We've been doing that pretty well. I just hope we can keep it up, and stay healthy."
This was Temple's sixth straight game giving up 50 points or fewer. Their opponents haven't exactly been Loyola-Marymount, but no Chaney team has ever had a run of defensive gems such as this.
The Minutemen, aggressively overplaying the Owls all over the court, hung around for a while in the first half until they stopped scoring. For seven minutes, they got nothing. A hoop finally came with 4 seconds left before halftime.
|Video clips at OwlSports.com|
Before Monty Mack, the UMass sharpshooter who was surrounded all night, hit a three-pointer for his team's first field goal of the half, the Owls were ahead by 43-21. They kept roughly that lead for the next ten minutes.
Karcher finished with 17 points. Lyde had 10 points and 8 rebounds. Keaton Sanders had 8 points and 9 rebounds off the bench, while Pepe Sanchez had 7 assists, 6 rebounds and no turnovers.
Last night, with Lyde back after sitting out the Duquesne game because of back spasms, his backup, Ron Rollerson, sat out. He limped around during warmups. The official word was a stress reaction in his tibia.
Chaney called it growing pains. "Can you imagine? A guy that tall, still having growing pains," Chaney said of his 6-foot-10 sophomore.
The Mullins Center is not a place where Temple goes in expecting success. Before last night, the Owls had won only one of nine games since the building opened.
But Temple came in with an impressive defensive streak. Its previous five opponents had averaged 42.6 points a game. Only one had reached 20 points in the first half. But for much of the first half, the Owls seemed to have met their match.
Temple came out and hit six of eight shots for a 14-6 lead. But one thing UMass has been able to do, even when it has struggled this season, is keep up its defensive intensity. The Minutemen were overplaying all over the court and seemed to have more energy.
When Mack hit a three-pointer with 8:22 left in the half, it was the first Massachusetts hoop that came from more than two feet away, and it drew the Minutemen to within 23-17. Less than a minute later, Chris Kirkland hit a shot from the wing to draw UMass to within 23-19.
But that turned out to be it for UMass for the next seven minutes. The Minutemen had no more points until Micah Brand scored in the lane with 4 seconds left in the half. That made the halftime score 34-21.
Temple hit the offensive boards and really hurt UMass. Three times, the Owls missed, regained possession, and hit either a three-pointer (twice) or outside jumper.
The last time, Sanders, who had five rebounds in the half, missed a free throw, it bounced back out to him, and Temple got three more shots before the ball went out of bounds off UMass.
MHERST, Mass. - This was a game Temple had to win as much for its psyche as its Ratings Percentage Index.
Massachusetts isn't great. In another six weeks, the Minutemen probably won't even be NCAA Tournament material. But they had won three straight, five of six, and stood only one game behind the Owls in the Atlantic 10 East loss column. And they had only lost to them once in nine meetings at the Mullins Center.
Sure, Temple had won five in a row, and eight of nine. But a substantial chunk of that came against the Rhode Islands, Virginia Techs and Duquesnes of the food chain. Much of it came at home, where the Owls haven't lost in two years. In their last two big road tests, against Wisconsin and St. Bonaventure, they failed.
With trips to West-leading Dayton and top-ranked Cincinnati on the horizon, it's never too early to start thinking long term. February has always been Temple coach John Chaney's kind of month.
Kit Rhymer tries to stop Kevin Lyde.
"When they shoot the ball like that and rebound, they're flat-out tough to beat," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "Watching the tapes, that's the best I've seen them play. They've got some guys who've been around. They were in the top five to start the season. If Pepe [Sanchez] hadn't got hurt, they might not be 15-4."
Sanchez, who sat out three of those losses, has been back. He scored only three points, but dictated at both ends again. He had six rebounds and seven assists before Chaney showed the good sense to take him out with five minutes left, which is sort of like Red Auerbach lighting a victory cigar.
"He's getting the ball to players in areas where they can function pretty good," said Chaney. "He's getting a little more rhythm, a better feel for what he's doing. He's not scoring, but he's getting the ball into spots where there's a comfort zone. And execution is what we're looking for at this time of year."
It shows in everyone else's game. Mark Karcher had 17 points on 12 shots. Kevin Lyde had 10 points and eight boards in 23 minutes. Keaton Sanders had eight and nine in 27 minutes off the bench. Alex Wesby made 4 of 5 shots in his 8 minutes. The Owls turned it over just eight times. Did we mention that seventh man Ron Rollerson, who was coming off a career-high 11-rebound game Saturday against Duquesne, didn't play because of sore knees? Didn't matter.
Temple (15-4, 8-1 in Atlantic 10) still had 28 more rebounds, including 20 off the offensive glass, which matched the Minutemen's (11-9, 5-3) total.
Must be the calendar.
"We look at only one thing," Chaney explained. "And I've told them this very well. The record has flipped over, in terms of playing well down the stretch, so the [selection] committee will take a look at us. That's the only concern I have. I don't look at this house or that one. That's history. That's looking back. I want to look forward, try to improve ourselves and finish strong.
"We've had success here, when we played where the birds were flying around [Curry Hicks Cage]. You get into stretches where this thing goes round and round. [UMass] doesn't have the talent it once had. It makes a big difference. We've lost games at certain places. Most of the time, it's because we're the biggest game in town. Whether it's St. Bonnies or Dayton, or wherever, there's an extra set of motivation [for the host]."
The Owls, who went 9-for-18 from the arc, led by four with 71/2 minutes left until intermission. They closed the half by scoring 11 of the last 13 points. Then they scored the first nine to start the second. Since they lead the nation in scoring defense and have held their last five opponents to 42 points a game, the only question was what would be greater at the end - UMass points or people in the stands. The Minutemen didn't get to 42 until two minutes remained.
At the break, Chris Kirkland and Monty Mack, UMass's top scorers, were each 1-for-4 from the field. They combined for 22 points, 14 below their average, on 22 shots. UMass doesn't score much even on good nights, but it was still impressive defense from the Owls.
Monty Mack keeps Lynn Greer in check.
The amazing thing was Chaney really didn't try to dispute that assessment.
"They're talking to each other, they're rotating, doing the things they have to do," he said. "They do a good job, perhaps better than any team I've had, of really believing that defense makes a difference. We shoot so bad at times and we still won the game. Against Penn, it was what, 44-41? The stop sign's going up. I hope we keep it up, and stay healthy."
There's always Lyde's recurring back spasms and Rollerson's wheels. It's usually something. When the Owls lost here in the regular-season finale a year ago, they were without Lynn Greer and then lost Quincy Wadley in the opening minutes with a broken finger. When they won here two years ago, they played without Sanchez.
This time, the Owls could have started Greg Jefferson and Cellou Mamadou Barry and it might not have mattered.
"This is big," said Greer. "We've been winning at home, but you want to carry that to the road. Some of the games we have coming up, you need a win like this to keep your confidence up. We don't try to let emotions come into it, but we knew this place hadn't been too kind to us.
"There's a lot of things we can still do better. Don't get me wrong. We're playing very well, but this is the time of year where you want to keep it going."
For as long as it takes you.
MHERST - Approximately eight minutes were left when what started as the liveliest Mullins Center crowd of the season began filing out.
That's the Temple defense for you. That's the UMass offense, as well.
|Audio clip: This was the kind of game UMass would just as well forget about.|
In a season of lows, the 27-point losing margin also hit bottom as the worst in the Mullins Center's seven-year history, as well as the worst in Bruiser Flint's three-plus seasons as coach of the Minutemen.
Considering the opponent, however, the result wasn't a complete surprise. The No. 21 Owls (15-4, 8-1) are one of the most balanced teams John Chaney has coached, accentuated last night by forward Mark Karcher's ability to bury daggers at will during his 7-of-12, 17-point performance.
Forty-six percent shooting, combined with Temple's ability to hold the Minutemen to 38 percent, created too much pressure from both sides for UMass.
``They shot the ball very well and, as you know, they don't always shoot that well,'' said Flint. ``When they shoot like that, it's going to be hard to beat them.''
The Minutemen succumbed late in the first half, when the Owls built a 34-21 halftime lead on the strength of an 11-0 run. The Minutemen shot 0-of-7 from the and made two turnovers during the stretch.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the Minutemen missed their first six shots of the second half - a drought that Temple converted into a 9-0 burst for a 43-21 lead that would only grow.
The Minutemen were in garbage time before they knew it.
Monty Mack scored 14 points to lead UMass.
For Flint, the most painful number was the difference in rebounding. With center Kitwana Rhymer regressing to his old ways and falling into early foul trouble, the Minutemen suffered a serious power drain on the glass.
The Owls had a numbing 48-20 rebounding margin.
``And they had as many offensive rebounds (20) as we had for a total,'' said Flint. ``That was the difference right there. There were rebounds we had that they just took right out of our hands.''
The only solace was that the Minutemen were not alone. The Owls, winners of six straight, held their previous five opponents to an average of 41.6 points per game. Temple, ranked No. 1 in the country in defense, won its previous three games by an average margin of 27.6 points.
That considered, the Minutemen fit right in as part of the trend.
MHERST - Kitwana Rhymer had his earliest impact this season as a hacker.
Kit Rhymer breaks free and slams one home.
Defense a real hoot
For the most part, Atlantic 10 teams have devoured each other this month. But with the exception of a Jan. 15 loss to St. Bonaventure, Temple has run through the conference schedule as if out on a jog. They came in last night with a five-game win streak that included, as usual, some of the best defense in the nation. Those five teams averaged 41.6 points against Temple's matchup zone, and none broke 50. The Owls are now second in the nation in field goal defense, limiting opponents to .326 shooting over their first 18 games. To compound the problem, they also won their last three games by an average margin of 27.6 points per game.
Pepe in their step
For all of the respect surrounding point guard Pepe Sanchez' role in the Temple offense, and the difficulty opponents have in rattling the Argentinian senior, UMass has been surprisingly effective. ``I'm 3-3 against him,'' said Flint. Last night's late, nationally televised time was a throwback to the days when a UMass/Temple game was in high demand. Considering the low-glitz nature of the Minutemen's season, this week is the highlight, with No. 16 Texas coming in for another nationally televised game on Saturday.
MHERST — His team had just absorbed the most lopsided loss in his career, but as he looked at the media members who knew he was back on the hot seat, Bruiser Flint still managed a smile.
"Everybody looks like it's the end of the world," the University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach said after the crushing 75-48 Atlantic 10 Conference loss to Temple before a season-high crowd of 8,048 at the Mullins Center. "I know y'all wanted me to win — I wanted to win, too. We've been playing well, but we just lost to a better team."
It was a memorable moment of understatement. The gap between 21st-ranked Temple and UMass hasn't seemed this wide in a long, long time. The Owls may be going deep in the NCAA tournament, but UMass is going back to the drawing board for Saturday's non-conference game against 16th-ranked Texas.
Losing to Temple (15-4, 8-1 Atlantic 10) is no disgrace. The Owls have won their last six, allowing no more than 50 points in any of them, and capturing the last four by an average margin of 27.5 points.
But UMass (11-9, 5-3), which came in on a three-game winning streak and had taken five of its last six, was unable to even be competitive in this one.
In fact, one of the biggest cheers was reserved for Ralph Lewis of Framingham, who had a chance to shoot for a million dollars in a second-half promotion sponsored by the Springfield Newspapers. He missed from 3-point range, but then again so did the Minutemen, who clanged 14 of 18 shots from beyond the arc against Temple's matchup zone.
"I think we're playing the best defense since I've been here," said forward Mark Karcher, whose 17 points led the Owls. "We're stopping their shooters from opening up on us. We're getting out on them."
The Owls did so on Monty Mack, who was held to 1-for-4 first-half shooting as Temple took a 34-21 lead. The Owls went on a 20-2 run that began in the first half and continued into the second, which made it 43-21 as UMass scored one field goal in a 13:29 span.
Mack finished with 14 points, and Kitwana Rhymer had 10. But Rhymer, who had been one of the Atlantic 10's most effective centers recently and had 29 rebounds in two previous games, was limited to eight first-half minutes after picking up two early fouls.
UMass, which had never lost by more than 24 under Flint, trailed by as many as 32 at 71-39. The most telling statistic was in rebounding, where Temple owned a staggering 48-20 edge and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
Keaton Sanders had nine boards and Kevin Lyde, who returned after missing one game with back spasms, had eight caroms along with 10 points. No UMass player had more than four rebounds.
"I've been saying all along that I think this is Temple's best team since the team that went to the final eight (in 1987-88) with Mark Macon," Flint said. "If (point guard) Pepe Sanchez hadn't been hurt (out eight games with an ankle injury), they might be better than 15-4."
"Our defense is putting a stop sign up — we're doing a pretty good job of that," agreed Temple coach John Chaney, whose team may be playing better now than it did last year, when it missed the Final Four by one game. "This may be one of my better teams in believing defense makes a difference."
The last time UMass was in the game came when Chris Kirkland's jumper capped a 7-2 spurt that closed Temple's lead to 23-19. But the Owls, who won for only the second time in 10 games at the Mullins Center, ruined UMass with second-chance opportunities.
"We've got a stretch against Virginia Tech, Temple and Texas and we've got to rebound the ball, or we've got no shot," Flint said. "We got tentative against their zone instead of attacking it, and they also shot the ball very well tonight."
Temple shot 46 percent from the floor and 9 of 18 on 3-pointers. Reserve forward Alex Wesby had 10 points for the Owls, and Sanchez had seven assists and no turnovers.
UMass fell to 14-27 all-time against Temple, 3-4 under Flint.
MHERST — It wasn't the shooting, although the University of Massachusetts could have been more accurate in that regard.
Last night's 75-48 loss to Temple can be attributed to the Minutemen's inability to keep the Owls off the offensive glass and the ensuing points they scored after getting the ball back.
|Audio clip: UMass was making too many one-and-done trips.|
The Owls had 20 offensive rebounds, as many total rebounds as the Minutemen in the game. They had four more offensive rebounds than UMass had defensive rebounds.
"They got more offensive rebounds than we got as a team," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "It's hard to win like that."
The 48 total rebounds was one shy of the record for rebounds by an opponent at Mullins Center (49 by Fresno State Dec. 10, 1996). The 20 offensive rebounds by the Owls were two shy of the mark set by Xavier last February, but that game went to double overtime.
The four offensive rebounds by UMass set a Mullins Center record for fewest, eclipsing six, which happened three times previously and most recently Jan. 13, 1999 against Duquesne.
"From the beginning we wanted to establish ourselves on both ends of the floor," said Temple forward Mark Karcher, who had a game-high 17 points. "We wanted to attack the baskets at both ends."
In the first half, the Owls came away with eight offensive boards, two less than the total number of rebounds by the Minutemen in the same period of time.
Second-chance points accounted for nearly a third of the 34 points the Owls scored in the first half.
It started when Karcher, who has quickly evolved into a UMass killer these last two seasons, knocked down a 3-pointer after Temple came away with an offensive rebound.
A couple of trips later, it was Karcher again burying the 3-pointer on a second-chance.
Karcher got into the act once again when he corralled a missed free throw by a teammate and scored inside while drawing the foul. He missed the free throw, but the 6-foot-5 junior had a lot more damage in store for UMass.
The most agonizing series of the half came when Keaton Sanders missed two free throws, but rebounded his second miss. He shot and missed, but Pepe Sanchez pulled in the offensive board.
Sanchez missed, but Quincy Wadley came away with the rebound. He missed a layup, but the loose ball went out of bounds off of Mike Babul's leg, returning the ball to Temple and an eventual two points by Alex Wesby. "Mass played very good defense, but our guys were shooting over them," Temple coach John Chaney said. "Mark (Karcher) just pulled up and shot the ball over them."
It didn't get any better for UMass in the second half.
Karcher started the ball rolling when he picked up an offensive rebound, but missed the shot. The ball went out of bounds off of UMass. On the restart, Karcher didn't miss and gave his Owls a 37-21 lead.
It only got worse from there.
|Video clip: A self-tip-in typified the UMass night against Temple.|
It was more of the same down the stretch as UMass couldn't keep Temple off the glass at one end and was unable to score or get second chances at the other.
MHERST — Just before leaving Blacksburg, Va., for their return trip home last weekend, John Collins promised that he and his wife would be back in time for last night's University of Massachusetts-Temple game at the Mullins Center.
They made it, but not by much. The Collinses of Turners Falls rolled into their driveway just before noon yesterday, one week after leaving to watch their beloved UMass men's basketball team play at Duquesne and Virginia Tech.
There may not be any UMass fans more loyal than the Collinses. They have attended every game this season, home and away, with the exception of three in Puerto Rico and the Dec. 18 Florida State game in Sunrise, Fla.
"The reason we didn't make it to Florida was our three children," Dotty Collins said. "They said it was too close to Christmas. We had a reservation."
"And we couldn't drive to Puerto Rico," said John, a retired elementary school principal.
But they drove to Detroit, and they plan to drive to Cincinnati for the Feb. 12 game against Xavier. The couple put about 7,000 miles on their car last season following the Minutemen, and expect to rack up even more mileage this season.
Last week, they left Tuesday for a Thursday game at Duquesne, got as far as Lee before snow delayed them the first night, but made it in time. After the Saturday game at Virginia Tech, they were slowed by a major storm that came up from the deep South.
"I don't want to see another pizza again for awhile," John Collins said.
Another dedicated fan, Ken Hintlian of Lexington, also made the Duquesne-Virginia Tech trip — partly by plane, and partly by rental car. He's missed five games (three in Puerto Rico, Florida State and Detroit) and expects to miss only the March 4 game at St. Bonaventure game from here on.
The Tulsa World newspaper reported Saturday that Bill Self, who has coached Tulsa to a 20-2 record and the nation's No. 17 ranking, might be a top candidate for the UMass coaching job if Bruiser Flint is not brought back.
Asked about Self last night, UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said "Bill Who?"
The newspaper also said former UMass coach John Calipari, who has expressed an interest in returning to college coaching, could wind up at Georgia Tech, where Bobby Cremins appears to be in trouble. Calipari is now a Philadelphia 76ers assistant.
Calipari has already attracted interest at Memphis, which some published reports say is ready to offer him a $900,000 annual package.
Temple sophomore center Kevin Lyde, who missed Saturday's 81-37 romp over Duquesne with a reoccurrence of chronic back problems, was back in the Owls' starting lineup last night.
Lyde played 23 minutes in last night's 75-48 victory, scoring 10 points with eight rebounds.
Temple coach John Chaney said this week that he thought UMass guard Monty Mack's NBA chances were promising. Mack and Temple guard Quincy Wadley were Atlantic 10 co-players of the week last week.
MHERST - Awful rebounding, Temple's trademark defense and an impressive shooting night by the Owls combined to overwhelm the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team Tuesday night. The Minutemen suffered the worst loss in Mullins Center history, 75-48, in front of the building's best crowd of the season (8,048).
"Temple played extremely well tonight," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "They played better than I've seen them on tape all year."
Anthony Oates can't believe what he sees, Ronell Blizzard can't even watch.
"Tonight it came down to that we couldn't get a rebound," said Flint. "We missed a couple of easy shots early and got a little tentative against the zone instead of attacking it. We just passed it around the perimeter. They made us pay for every offensive rebound they got. When they shoot the ball like that and rebound like that, they're tough to beat."
Of UMass' 20 boards, only four were offensive and the Minutemen (11-9, 5-3 Atlantic 10) couldn't convert any second-chance opportunities. Temple held the second-chance-points edge, 15-0.
That, combined with 29 missed shots and nine turnovers, made for an awful lot of empty offensive possessions for UMass.
"We're playing our best defense since I've been here," Temple forward Mark Karcher said. "We're stopping teams from getting their shooters out there on us."
The Owls put UMass in a deep hole early by sinking some tough shots with the shot clock winding down. Karcher was particularly noteworthy, sinking off-balance 3-pointers twice when UMass was trying to get back into the game.
"They shot the ball very well tonight," Flint said. "They don't always shoot like that."
"Mass played very good defense," Temple coach John Chaney said. "Yet our guys were shooting over them and getting the ball in the basket. Mark (Karcher) just spotted up and shot the ball. Catch and shoot is something he's been able to do in the last couple games exceptionally well. When you're hitting shots, those are usually easy games when you're playing good defense."
The best crowd of the season faced a big let-down.
Without him the Owls outrebounded the Minutemen, 22-10, in the first half. UMass centers Rhymer, Micah Brand and Anthony Oates were held to just one first-half rebound.
Three-pointers by Karcher, Pepe Sanchez and Quincy Wadley helped Temple open a 14-6 lead. A long drought by the Minutemen late in the half sealed their fate. The Owls led, 34-19, before a hook shot by Brand made it 34-21 at halftime.
Rhymer returned in the second half, but couldn't get into a rhythm on the glass and finished with just two rebounds overall.
Flint had said during the week that Temple opponents would lose by 30 if they had to hurry and shoot 3-pointers. But when his team got down by double figures late in the first half, he was forced to push the offense to try to get back into the game, causing his prophecy to come true.
"When you start getting down against those guys, it's tough because of the way they play," Flint said.
|Audio clip: Bruiser could only do so much from the sidelines to help the UMass rebounding effort.|
Karcher led the Owls with 17 points and six rebounds, while center Kevin Lyde had 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior point guard Sanchez had a typical night for him with seven assists, no turnovers and six rebounds to go with three points.
Mack led UMass with 14 points, while Rhymer had 10. Mack moved into 11th place on the UMass career scoring chart, passing Clarence Hill and Julius Erving with 1,371 career points.
Flint emphasized that despite the outcome he wasn't upset with his team's desire.
"I thought guys fought to the end," Flint said. "I told them, this is a tough setback, but we just have to get ready for the next one."
That one is against Texas at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Mullins Center.
MHERST - Of all the losses the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team has suffered in the past two years, this one made the most sense.
Because the Minutemen looked good in three straight wins over Rhode Island, Duquesne and Virginia Tech, and because Temple is ranked No. 21 instead of in the top 10 (which they could be), it was easy to overlook the obvious talent differential and matchup problems between the Minutemen and Owls.
Shannon Crooks cuts off Pepe Sanches.
In a 77-72 loss to Wake Forest, the Owls had only six assists compared with eight turnovers. Sanchez certainly could have improved that statistic and maybe swung the tide of a close game.
Temple was missing both Sanchez and leading scorer Mark Karcher when it fell to Wisconsin.
It's reasonable to think that Temple still would be hovering around the top 10 had it remained healthy.
"Temple was a top five team to start the season," Flint said. "If Sanchez doesn't get hurt, I don't know if they're 15-4 right now. They might be better than that. I think this is the best team since (1990-91), when they went to the Final Eight. They're always big and these guys can shoot the ball and can get baskets when they need them."
Tuesday night, the Owls were for the most part healthy and executed both offensively and defensively with machine-like precision. Against this version of the Minutemen, Temple is going to win 90 percent of the time.
"Bruiser right now doesn't have the kind of talent they once had and certainly there is a big difference in that," Temple coach John Chaney said. "Given time I think they'll be fine. His kids played their hearts out defensively, but its not easy with the big kids we have and the defense we play."
That's not to say UMass is incapable of beating a good team. Their defensive prowess makes the Minutemen capable of hanging around with teams, but as was on display Tuesday night, they don't match up well with the bigger Owls.
Temple entered the game having held its last five opponents to 50 or fewer points. Included in that handful were traditionally good offensive teams like La Salle and Xavier.
UMass is better when some transition baskets can increase its scoring total, a luxury nobody gets against Temple. For one thing, the Owl defense always gets back and point guard Pepe Sanchez turns the ball over about as often as Massachusetts elects Republicans.
When forced to operate a strictly halfcourt offense, UMass struggles against any team that plays decent defense; and it is even worse against Temple's vaunted matchup zone.
If UMass were to have a chance to win this game, it couldn't get behind early or by a lot and it had to hope that the game remained low scoring. Another 49-41 final to match Saturday's winning margin over Virginia Tech would have done the trick.
The Minutemen's shooting struggles, outside of Monty Mack, from just about any distance were exposed and exploited by the Owls.
This game happened just the way it seemed it would on paper, but the Minutemen can't afford to dwell on it. A postseason berth is still a realistic goal. The NIT is much more realistic than the NCAA, but for either to occur UMass needs to put this loss behind it and move on.
MHERST - It was neither spectacular, pretty, nor unexpected.
But there it was. Simple, wise, and Chaney-esque as usual.
Yes, as was demonstrated during Temple's meticulous 75-48 win over the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team Tuesday, this is your grandfather's Temple basketball team.
Exhibit A? The nature of a 12-0 Owl run that stretched over 5:38 of the latter stages of the first half. The spurt demoralized the Minutemen with nothing more than solid fundamentals: lay-ups, free throws, short jumpers, and a knee-buckling, mind-numbing half-court defense.
With the clock ticking mercifully toward intermission, Micah Brand did his best to squeeze the floodgates shut with a lay-up. But Temple's lead had extended to 34-21, and this, of course, did not bode well for the Minutemen. Coming back from a double-digit deficit against Temple (in the second half, no less) is akin to breaching security at Fort Knox.
Nothing new here. Temple's been doing this to opponents for years: a matchup zone that simply takes opponents out of their offense, out of the paint, and away from the offensive glass (UMass had no second-chance points); a cerebral offense led by an equally heady point guard in Pepe Sanchez (seven assists, 0 turnovers); and a certain confidence that bespeaks a winning attitude without the swagger (kind of refreshing, actually).
The run began innocently enough when Mark Karcher grabbed a loose ball and deposited a lay-up for a 25-19 lead.
And Temple didn't exactly ignite on offense, after that - does 12 points in eight minutes even qualify as a "spurt"?
The Owls didn't score their next bucket until the 2:22 mark when Alex Wesby knocked down a jump shot. The only problem for UMass was, sandwiched between those two baskets were a Monty Mack miss from beyond the arc, a blown lay-up by Shannon Crooks, an errant 3-pointer from Mike Babul and a couple of UMass turnovers.
"We missed some lay-ups, that's all it was," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "You've gotta knock those shots down against a zone."
Perhaps more significant was the fact that Wesby's hoop came after four Temple offensive boards on the same possession - a series that epitomized Temple's rebounding effort.
"They made some shots with guys in their faces and we did not rebound the ball," said Flint. "If you keep giving them second chances, those things happen."
Those things being a couple of Lamont Barnes baskets and a Quincy Wadley free throw to cap the run, coupled with a UMass offense that suddenly lost its poise.
|Audio clip: Temple and UMass both seemed to be from the Shaq School of Free Throws.|
No matter. The damage was done.
The Minutemen did not play a terrible game. Temple is very good, and UMass is not as bad as the final score indicated.
Flint conceded as much afterwards. And in a twist, Flint actually tried to console the press corps.
"Don't look so glum," said Flint. "Everybody looks like it's the end of the world in here. We've been playing good, we just lost to a good team... We'll bounce back."
And maybe rebound a little bit, too, when No. 16 Texas struts into town Saturday.
352 x 240
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|Temple Owls (#21)||75|
|at the Mullins Center|
TEMPLE (75) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Karcher 28 7-12 0-1 1-6 2 1 17 Barnes 28 4-6 1-2 0-4 0 3 9 Lyde 23 5-11 0-1 3-8 1 2 10 P Sanchez 35 1-4 0-0 1-6 7 0 3 Wadley 31 3-8 1-2 2-4 2 1 9 Jefferson 1 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Greer 16 2-9 0-0 0-1 2 3 5 K Sanders 27 2-7 4-6 5-9 0 2 8 Wesby 8 4-5 0-0 3-3 0 0 10 Barry 3 0-0 2-2 1-2 0 0 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 29-63 8-14 16-43 14 12 75 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.460, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals: 9-18, .500 (Karcher 3-5, P Sanchez 1-2, Wadley 2-5, Greer 1-3, K Sanders 0-1, Wesby 2-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Barnes, K Sanders). Turnovers: 8 (Karcher 4, Greer 3, Wadley). Steals: 5 (Barnes, K Sanders, Karcher, P Sanchez, Wadley). MASSACHUSETTS (48) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Kirkland 32 3-10 2-2 0-2 0 1 8 Babul 24 0-1 0-0 1-4 1 1 0 Rhymer 26 3-5 4-6 1-2 0 3 10 Mack 40 5-12 0-0 1-4 1 2 14 Crooks 35 4-12 0-3 0-2 2 3 8 Oates 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Depina 14 0-1 2-2 0-1 3 2 2 Blizzard 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Smith 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Brand 18 3-4 0-0 0-3 1 2 6 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 18-47 8-13 3-18 8 15 48 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.383, FT-.615. 3-Point Goals: 4-18, .222 (Kirkland 0-2, Babul 0-1, Mack 4-11, Crooks 0-4). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 1 (Kirkland). Turnovers: 9 (Mack 3, Crooks 2, Kirkland 2, Babul, Depina). Steals: 3 (Babul, Depina, Kirkland). __________________________________ Temple 34 41 - 75 Massachusetts 21 27 - 48 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 8,048. Officials: Jody Silvester, Gene Monje, Joe Demayo.