St. Louis has been on an astonishing run since the sudden death of former Billikens coach Rick Majerus. That’s nine wins in a row. Billikens coach Jim Crews claimed, in a recent conversation with CBS’ Matt Norlander, that they hadn’t even given it a thought.
Whether they knew it or not, the streak is over. The Temple Owls protected their nest and pulled off a 64-54 win in front of a home crowd. Khalif Wyatt exploded for 24 points on 7-11 shooting, ably backed by a 20/10 double-double from forward Anthony Lee. The Owls’ fortunes seem to hinge heavily on which Wyatt shows up on any given night. Against Kansas, the enigmatic guard scored 26, and his team nearly knocked off No. 6 in Allen Fieldhouse. Then, in the team’s A-10 opener at Xavier, Wyatt shot 2-11 and scored just six in a ten-point loss.
Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of this Temple team, which should make the rest of the season quite the roller-coaster ride for players, coaches and fans alike.
St. Louis got a big night from guard Rob Loe, who went 3-4 from deep on his way to a 17-point, 11-rebound evening. Loe’s efforts went largely unsupported, however. Guard Jordair Jett had three of the Billikens’ 13 turnovers, and the St. Louis big men simply could not penetrate the interior, where Temple’s trees combined for six blocked shots.
The A-10 season is always a raucous affair, and expansion can only make it more so. If Temple hopes to make the most of their last season in the conference (assuming nothing else expands, contracts or self-immolates in the next few months) they’ll need more nights like this one.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.