Instant Replay: Temple 84, No. 21 VCU 76

Instant Replay: Temple 84, No. 21 VCU 76
March 10, 2013, 2:30 pm
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The Khalif Wyatt Free-Throw Shooting Exhibition has officially ended its North Philadelphia run and will make a weekend stop in Brooklyn before heading out on a national tour.

In his final game at the Liacouras Center, the senior guard finished with a game-high 30 points, making 13 of 16 free throws to lead Temple over No. 21 VCU, 84-76, on Sunday.

Temple looked like it was headed for embarrassment in the first half but crawled out a 16-point deficit to run away from VCU in the second.

With the win, Temple extends its season-long win streak to seven games and advances to 23-8 overall and 11-5 in conference. The Owls are now riding their longest unbeaten streak since starting the season 6-0 and have claimed their second victory over a Top 25 opponent in five tries. The win puts them in solid shape for their sixth straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

It also makes Temple the No. 3-seed in this week's Atlantic 10 tournament, giving the Owls a first-round bye on Thursday and pitting them against the winner of UMass and George Washington on Friday night at 9 p.m.

VCU, on the other hand, drops to 24-7 overall and 12-4 in league play. The Rams fall one game short of Saint Louis (13-3) in the race for the Atlantic 10 regular season title. They receive a first-round bye and will play the winner of Xavier and Saint Joseph's on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

First half
Temple scored 12 of the first fifteen points, and then VCU wreaked havoc.

The Rams went on an 18-0 run that turned into a 28-6 stretch and left Temple trailing by as much as 16 in the first half. VCU forced eight Temple turnovers, went 17-for-32 from the field (52.1 percent) and a perfect 6-for-6 from three.

Temple had no business even being on the same floor with VCU for the majority of the frame, but went into the locker room on an 11-0 run, holding the Rams scoreless from the final 3:10 of the half to enter the break down five, 41-36.

Temple really only stayed in the game by going 13-for-17 from free-throw line to VCU's 1-for-1. The deficit could have been much, much worse.

Turning point
Temple graduate forward Jake O'Brien tied the game at 46-46 on a three-pointer 4:06 into the second half. Temple had trailed for over 18 minutes. O'Brien then gave Temple its first lead in nearly 20 minutes, 51-48, on another three from the left wing. It was all part of a 26-7 Temple stretch.

Once the Owls retook the lead, they never gave it up and proceeded to stretch it to as much as 17. From the time Temple found itself trailing by 16, 36-20, in the first, it outscored VCU 64-40 the rest of the game.

Wyatt finished with game high in points for the 15th time in Temple's 31 games this season. He was 8-for-18 from the field and a less glamorous 1-for-8 from three. It's the fifth time Wyatt has gone for 30 or more this season. Wyatt is now 16th on the all-time Temple scoring list with 1,495 points. Now sits ahead of Rick Brunson and Hal Lear.

Three other Owls -- Jake O'Brien (19), Scootie Randall (13), Will Cummings (13) -- finished in double figures.

O'Brien made a season-high five threes and Randall finished one rebound shy of his fifth career double-double.

Inside the box score
• VCU entered the game with the Division I lead in steals (12.2) and turnovers forced per game (20.1), while Temple surrendered the 11th-fewest turnovers in the nation (10.9). On Sunday, the Owls turned the ball over just 13 times. VCU held no advantage in points scored off turnovers, 20-20.

• VCU and Temple both put together massive runs during which they outscored the opponent by at least 19. VCU went 28-6 in the first half, and Temple 26-7 from the first and into the second.

• Temple attempted 21 more and made 16 more free throws than VCU.

Saying goodbye
Seniors T.J. DiLeo, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Wyatt, O'Brien and Randall have now played their last game at the Liacouras Center. All five were escorted to midcourt before the game to meet with coach Fran Dunphy and received a framed jersey.

The win gives this senior class its 50th against just five losses at the Liacouras Center in the last four seasons.

Honored at the half
Temple honored its 1987-88 team at halftime, the only Owls team to ever be ranked No. 1 in the nation. Led by freshman guard Mark Macon and senior forward Tim Perry, the '87-88 team finished with the best record in Temple history (32-2), went a perfect 18-0 in A-10 play and was the first of five John Chaney-coached teams to reach the Elite Eight.

Next up
Saint Louis, VCU, Temple and La Salle receive first-round byes in Brooklyn. The rest of the A-10 tournament's first round is as follows on Thursday:

• No. 8 Richmond plays No. 9 Charlotte at 12 p.m.
• No. 5 Butler plays No. 12 Dayton at 2:30 p.m.
• No. 7 Xavier plays No. 10 Saint Joseph's at 6:30 p.m.
• No. 6 UMass plays No. 11 George Washington at 9:00 p.m.

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