Pierce Sets New Records as Owls Soar over Buffalo 34-0

Pierce Sets New Records as Owls Soar over Buffalo 34-0

LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD—Bernard Pierce's assault on the Temple record book continues.

Crossing the goal line for the 44th touchdown of his college career, the junior running back is now the all-time leader in TDs scored by a Temple Owl, passing Paul Palmer's previous record of 43. This is the second week in a row Pierce has broken a Palmer record; he set a new program-high for career rushing touchdowns scored by an Owl last week at Ball State.

Of course, its one thing for Bernard to break someone else's record, but he's beginning to break some of his own.

Pierce's second touchdown of the day, the one that set the aforementioned career TD record, also marked his 17th touchdown of the season. That score sets a new Temple record for the most touchdowns by an Owl in a single season. The previous record of 16 was set in 2009 by, you guessed it, then-freshman running back Bernard Pierce.

Handing the ball off to Pierce, Chester Stewart was as good as he needed to be under center. In slightly less than three quarters of work, Stewart went just 7-11 passing, but it was all Temple needed, as both Pierce and second-string runner Matt Brown both rushed for over 100-yards for the second week in a row. The offense accumulated 400 total rushing yards by the end of the game.

On defense, the Owls posted their second shut out in two weeks and their second-consecutive shut out of the Buffalo Bulls. Aided by the offense's ability to force three-and-outs and dominate the time of possession, the Temple D surrendered just 155-yards on Saturday, and did not allow Buffalo a first down until the second quarter of play.

Indeed, the Owls were solid in all three phases of the game, with punter/kicker Brandon McManus turning in another fine performance. Despite some of the strong winds whipping through Lincoln Financial Field Saturday afternoon, McManus was able to put both of his field goal attempts through the uprights and convert on all four of his extra point opportunities.

Transitioning from kicker to punter, McManus drilled a 71-yard punt down wind that was eventually downed at the Buffalo 4. After having that kicked called back on a illegal formation penalty, he once more stepped up to boot his next punt in excess of sixty yards. He nearly put a third quarter kickoff into the seats behind the north end zone.

Having some special teams success of his own, running-back-turned-linebacker Ahkeem Smith found himself on the receiving end of a fake punt, direct snap. Smith went 49 yards into the end zone, putting Temple up 24-0, and effectively ending the game in the second quarter.

Add to that a Kee-Ayre Griffin blocked field goal and the Owls' special teams may have managed to out-perform an offense that ended the game with a total 458 yards from scrimmage.

Still, like always, the team will need to move on and begin to focus on its next game at Bowling Green. As head coach Steve Addazio said after the game, "That's great that we had two great weeks; but this world, this whole society, always want to take its foot off the gas. But if we do, we won't have a good week and we'll put ourselves in harm's way [like after the Maryland game]."

If this Temple team can bear down and keep its focus and over the course of its remaining schedule, it'll be their opponents in the MAC Championship game who will find themselves in "harm's way."

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The Clippers said Tuesday that their All-Star guard will continue to undergo treatment and evaluation by the club's medical staff.

Paul was injured on a first-half play involving Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in Monday night's victory over the Thunder. Paul didn't return in the second half.

The Clippers are 26-9 in 36 games with Paul in the lineup this season. He is averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and leads the NBA with 2.25 steals per game (see full story).

Knicks: Anthony tells Jackson he wants to stay in New York
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony still believes the Knicks can win and still wants to be in New York when they do.

Another January collapse makes it easier to wonder if either will happen.

The Knicks have fallen off the playoff pace, again proving they can win headlines but not games. It seems like the same old story in New York, even though Anthony still thinks they can change the ending.

"Yeah, we will," he said. "I still believe."

He reiterated that Tuesday in a meeting with Phil Jackson, telling the Knicks president of basketball operations that he wanted to remain with the team, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion.

The question is how much Jackson still wants him.

A Fanragsports.com piece by Charley Rosen last week was heavily critical of Anthony, saying his legs are "going, going, almost gone" and that "the only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York."

Criticism of Anthony is nothing new, but this came from a longtime confidant and former assistant coach of Jackson, leading to speculation that those were the same thoughts as the Knicks executive (see full story).

Hornets: Clifford blames poor defense for Hornets' losing streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets coach Steve Clifford points to one factor when explaining his team's five-game losing streak -- a lack of defense.

Charlotte went 0-5 on its recent road trip, surrendering an uncharacteristic 109.6 points per game during that span. The Hornets return home Wednesday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, part of a stretch of five-game home stand which Clifford hopes will help turn things around.

But Charlotte's fourth-year coach said nothing will get better until the Hornets start playing better man-to-man defense.

"It starts with our ability to guard our guy," Clifford said. "When you get blown by a lot on the perimeter where you are constantly in need of help, then you are going to give up 3s -- and that's what is happening."

The Hornets raced to a 14-9 start this season and were third-best in the league in points allowed through 23 games.

Since then, things have steadily fallen apart, culminating with Charlotte giving up at least 100 points in eight straight games. The Hornets have since dropped to 12th overall in points allowed (see full story).

Kings: F Omri Casspi out for up to 2 weeks with calf injury
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi will miss up to two weeks with an injured right calf.

The team said Tuesday that an MRI showed Casspi strained a tendon in his calf during practice on Monday.

Casspi is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

CAMDEN, N.J. — The camouflaged tape wrapped around T.J. McConnell’s right wrist couldn’t disguise the latest hit to the Sixers’ backcourt. 

McConnell suffered a sprain on Saturday in a play against John Wall and was in a splint on Tuesday. He did not participate in practice and is listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors (see story)

“[I’m] trying to keep it stable and not move it around a lot. I should be good to go very soon,” McConnell said. “I’m leaving [when I play] up to the medical staff. I’ll just tell them how I feel. It’s getting a lot better each day.”

Add McConnell to the list of point guards who have battled injuries this season. Let’s start at training camp: Jerryd Bayless suffered a left wrist ligament injury that ended up requiring season-ending surgery. His absence bumped Sergio Rodriguez into the starting lineup, until Rodriguez sprained his left ankle in late December and missed three games.

That left McConnell as the team’s only healthy true point guard at that point. McConnell played so well as a starter while Rodriguez was sidelined that he remained in the lineup when Rodriguez returned. 

“I obviously want to get back quick, but I know me and my teammates won’t lose that cohesion together,” McConnell said.  

This time around, the Sixers are better equipped to handle the injury of a point guard. They signed Chasson Randle from the Westchester Knicks (NBA Development League) to a 10-day contract on Jan. 10. The team liked Randle for his combo skills that would allow him to play shooting guard in practices and give Gerald Henderson an opportunity to rest. Turns out, they need him at the one spot the most. 

Randle played 16 minutes off the bench in Monday’s win over the Bucks. He scored 10 points (3 for 6 from the field, 2 for 4 from three, 2 for 2 from the line) with two rebounds, an assist and five fouls. Randle took his first shot just 23 seconds after checking in for Rodriguez and made his first NBA bucket, a three. 

“He did a great job,” Rodriguez said. “He stepped up in the game, he made some shots, he got the rhythm of the team going. For us, it’s amazing … he’s just here for a few days and he’s talented and he showed [Monday].”

Now Randle could be the latest point guard to maximize an opportunity created by injury. The Sixers have been impressed by what Stanford’s all-time leading scorer can do on both sides of the court. 

“When you start looking at what we have access to, the physical measurements, his wingspan is elite,” Brett Brown said. “You sit him in a stance and he spreads out, he uncoils. He really can cover some ground with his width, his length, albeit from a point guard position. Some of the deflections he got and defensive plays he made, I thought were outstanding.”