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.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.