Honoring No. 6
Temple retired Hal Lear's No. 6 jersey in a halftime ceremony. Lear is just the fourth member of the Temple men's basketball team to have his number retired, joining Mark Macon, Bill Mlkvy and the late Guy Rodgers. Macon -- Temple's all-time leading scorer -- and Mlkvy were both on hand for the occasion.
In 79 career games, Lear scored 1,472 points, averaging 19 per game. As a senior, Lear led Temple to its first Final Four, averaging 24 a game.
Fittingly, the best backcourt in Temple history has been reunited, as Lear's No. 6 now hangs next to Rodgers' No. 5.
Since going off for 31 points in Temple's first game of the season, Scootie Randall has been mired in a frustrating shooting slump.
Mercifully for his Owls teammates, his troubles appear as if they're coming to an end.
Randall finished with a team-high 21 points Wednesday night to help lead Temple past Richmond, 71-64, at the Liacouras Center, advancing the Owls to 14-6 this season and 3-3 in Atlantic 10 play (see Instant Replay).
He made his first five shots of the game, including three looks from three, to finish 8 for 13 from the floor and 3 for 5 from behind the arc.
"It would be nice if it's over and done with and we're moving on," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said, referring to Randall's "funk."
Expectations were high for the fifth-year senior at the beginning of the season after he sat out Temple's entire 2011-12 campaign with a knee injury. Those expectations only grew higher when he made 10 of his 19 attempts against Kent State in Temple's season-opener.
And then the expectations failed to meet reality.
Coming into Wednesday night's game against Richmond, Randall was just 30 of 113 (26.5 percent) from three. Exclude the game against Kent State, and he had shot just 34 percent from the field and 24.7 percent from behind the arc in his last 18 games.
After Temple's win over Saint Louis on Jan. 12, his coach even said, "Scoot's struggling a little bit, and he'll be the first to tell you. But, at this point, he's my son and I'm going to try to guide him through it."
Well, has he finally gotten through it? Randall's effort Wednesday night followed a 13-point, 5-for-10 performance last Saturday at Butler. In both games, he was 3 of 5 from three. It's only two games, but those totals feel like a big deal for Randall, who hadn't scored more than 13 points in his last 13 games.
"I've been playing basketball a long time, so I know that even the great people struggle. I'm thankful I've got great teammates to support me. I think that I just made shots today and I know it's just going to continue to get better," Randall said.
"Not for tonight, necessarily, but I'm glad to see him back after having some injury problems," Richmond coach and Philly native Chris Mooney said. "He's a really good player, a confident player, an experienced player, and when he's open, he can knock down shots. I thought he played off of [Khalif] Wyatt really, really well."
While Randall's been slumping, it's been Wyatt who's carried the Temple offense. Against Richmond, he finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five turnovers and a technical foul, giving new meaning to the phrase "filling out a box score." His three from the left wing with 3:05 to play put Temple ahead 64-61 and sparked a 10-4 Owls run to close the game. The seven rebounds tied a career high.
"I haven't been rebounding that well this season," Wyatt said. "Scootie (who leads the team with 6.8 boards per game) actually challenged me to get down there a little bit more. … I mean I always try to find my teammates, as well as score the ball. They need me to score, but they need me to get shots too. It's just part of my role."
If the Owls are going to erase their season-long inconsistency from game to game, they'll need both Wyatt and Randall playing at their highest levels, doing a little bit of everything -- and then they'll need to crack down on defense.
In that sense, they did a better job on Wednesday, holding Richmond (13-9, 3-4), the best three-point shooting team in the A-10, to a 4-for-13 total in the first half. True, Temple's transition defense was still poor and allowed Darien Brothers (22 points) and the Spiders, who make their living setting up threes on the break, to retake the lead in the second half after trailing by as many as 11 in the first. But Dunphy seemed nonetheless encouraged by his team's defense in the halfcourt.
"I thought that our assignments were pretty well kept to," he said. "I thought we did a better job on the switches. We didn't get beat on any of the backdoor cuts. We traced the ball pretty well to not allow some easy passes for baskets.
"Overall, I was much more pleased."
And those were the three positives from Wednesday -- better shooting from Randall, better play on the boards from Wyatt and a better defensive effort from all involved.
Now Temple just needs to figure out how to maintain and build on a lead over 40 minutes. That remains a work in progress.
Temple's Anthony Lee recorded his fourth career double-double on 12 points and 13 rebounds. The 13 rebounds tie a career-high. … Junior transfer Dalton Pepper just can't get the ball to fall in the basket. He's shooting just 25 percent this season and has made just three of his last 19 attempts. … Richmond's Brothers, sixth in the country in three-point percentage (47.2), went 5 for 10 from three. … His teammate, freshman Deion Taylor, is actually shooting higher from three (48.6 percent) than from the field overall (48.3) or the foul line (46.7).