Khalif Wyatt

Temple upsets No. 3 Syracuse behind career day from senior Khalif Wyatt

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Coming off an upset loss to Canisius Wednesday, Temple had little rest before it walked into Madison Square Garden Saturday against No. 3 Syracuse.

And with an overwhelming majority of Syracuse fans in attendance, Temple used smart basketball to grind out a win over the Orange, 83-79, in Manhattan.

Khalif Wyatt scored a career-high 33 points, including 20 in the first half, then also worked to facilitate scoring for his teammates for much of the second half. The biggest beneficiary of that was Anthony Lee, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Lee’s presence on the block against the No. 4 rebounding team in the country was key, pushing for position and fighting for six offensive rebounds, which afforded Temple important ball-control and second-chance opportunities.

Aside from Wyatt, the Owls struggled in the first half. While Wyatt scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, the rest of the team scored just 18 on 5-of-17 from the floor.

Temple attacked the patented Syracuse zone by working the ball into the middle and on the baseline, then working it back to the outside for open shots on the perimeter.

When trailing by 10 with 9:34 remaining in the first half, two threes by transfer Jake O’Brien spurred a 10-2 run that put the Owls back into the game.

Temple then started the second half on a 12-2 run, growing its lead to as many as seven points in the first ten minutes of the second half.

At that point, though, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim implemented a full-court press that clearly made Temple uncomfortable, increasing the pace and allowing the Orange to tie the game at 59 with 10:18 remaining.

Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams scored his first field goal of the game during that stretch, a layup with 15:16 remaining. He struggled offensively and from the free throw line on the game with 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting and 7-of-15 from the free throw line.

He picked up his fourth foul with 5:48 remaining, which forced him to play cautiously in a key stretch of the second half.

C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche were the two engines behind the Syracuse offense Saturday with Carter-Williams’ lull. Fair finished with 25 points and Triche had 17.

Temple became more comfortable with the Syracuse pressure after the nine-minute mark, going on an 11-3 run to expand the lead to eight points.

Fair struck again late in the second half, hitting a three from the corner to pull Syracuse within one possession with 3:07 to play.

Although Syracuse pulled within one point, 74-73, late in the second half, Temple never relinquished the lead.

The loss snaps Syracuse’s 52-game regular season, non-conference winning streak.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: