Temple Pulls out Road Win over Delaware, Though Struggles Persist

Temple Pulls out Road Win over Delaware, Though Struggles Persist

Make it two in a row for the Temple Owls when it comes to playing and winning needlessly troublesome basketball games. While Buffalo was admittedly a bad matchup on Wednesday given the Owls' lack of size under the basket, Delaware's considerably shorter lineup should have never been an issue.

Alas, it was, as Temple barely escaped the Carpenter Center on Friday night 66-63, notching their 17th straight victory over the Blue Hens.

Delaware sophomore Devon Saddler led all scorers with 18, but could not hit an off-balance three-point attempt to tie the game as time expired. He, along with freshman guard Jarvis Threatt, made life difficult for the Owls in the second half, repeatedly beating the Temple perimeter defense off dribble-drives to the basket.

"On the defensive end, we're still struggling a little bit," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said during his post-game interview. "We've got to be better in terms of keeping people out of the lane.

"One time, Juan [Fernandez] gave up a dribble-penetration move by Saddler, and we've got to be better at keeping people in front of us without fouling. So, we'll continue to work at that, but we need to be better on defense."

Unlike Saddler, who was consistent all night only to come up short at the end, Temple's Khalif Wyatt went just 1 for 10 from the field before nailing home a three to put the Owls up one with 35 seconds remaining. He then snagged a defensive rebound off a missed Kyle Anderson jumper, and eventually found himself at the foul line, where he drained both of his free throws to put Temple ahead by three with just six seconds left on the game clock.

His struggles earlier in the night aside, neither Wyatt's coaches nor his teammates had any doubt in his capabilities when it came time for junior guard to make the play that would ultimately win the
game for Temple.

"My teammates told me to keep shooting," said Wyatt when asked if his
confidence was shaken after his 1 for 10 start. "The coaches on the
sideline told me to keep shooting. That the last shot was over. They
kept trusting me. [Ramone Moore] gave me the ball. He trusted me at the end of
the game and...I just shot it."

"I wasn't surprised that he made it," Dunphy said of the shot. "I wasn't
surprised that he took it. And I wasn't surprised that Ramone had the
presence of mind to set him up like he did. Ramone had great confidence in
Khalif and he came through."

"The reality is, with [Wyatt, Fernandez and Moore]...somebody asked me a question as to why we gave the ball to Khalif at the end of the Buffalo game. You can almost take turns with all three of those guys. They all can make plays. They all can make shots. They all have the confidence in themselves to do good work. So, it doesn't make much difference who's going to take that shot at end."

And while their coach is right that they have all demonstrated their abilities to close at the end of a game, they have also produced their share of cold stretches. Much like Wednesday against Buffalo, all three of Temple's starting guards struggled to find their jump shots. Posting a combined 9 for 36 from the floor — their followup to 20 of 56 performance against the Bulls — all three found themselves on the bench for extended stretches in favor of sophomore Aaron Brown, junior T.J. DiLeo and freshman Will Cummings.

Thankfully, the bench would come up big for the Owls when it needed to, with Brown making three key baskets to keep Temple alive in the first half, Cummings twice regaining the lead for the Owls in the second, and DiLeo both throwing down a dunk and taking a charge to energize his team during the late stages of the game.

"I'll tell you, sometimes you're flying by the seat of your pants. You're hoping the matchups can be okay," Dunphy said of the extended minutes he received from his bench. "You want to give Will minutes. And you want to give T.J. minutes. And Aaron Brown — he's as hard of a worker as he have; so, he deserves minutes. You just hope you're picking the right guys and the right times, and somehow we figured it out tonight."

This is the second game in a row in which Temple has just barely managed to "figure it out" in time to avoid losses to opponents they were easily favored to beat. It is doubtful they will have the luxury of sorting out their troubles so late in the proceedings when they take on Duke next Wednesday night.

Notes
The announced attendance of 4,234 was the largest crowd at the Carpenter Center since Delaware hosted Hofstra in 2005...Friday night was Delaware's first home loss of the season...Temple freshman Anthony Lee finished tied a career-high 12 points and chipped in seven rebounds...Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson to Khalif Wyatt when the duo was asked about Temple's struggles on defense: "You're Mr. Talkative, right?"...Hollis-Jefferson would finish 13 points and 8 rebounds on 5-10 shooting.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat 114-84
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks 114-110
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres 4-1
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).