Khalif Wyatt, Roosevelt Jones

Home loss reveals Temple’s need for more than Khalif Wyatt offensively

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Jim Ferry’s Duquesne Dukes entered Thursday’s game at Temple having lost 11 straight games, so it looked to be a safe bet that the Owls would take care of business at the Liacouras Center.

That wasn’t the case, as two Derrick Colter free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining gave Duquesne the 84-83 victory while handing Temple a loss the Owls could not afford to have on its resume. With the defeat Temple drops to 16-8 overall (5-5 Atlantic 10), and now the possibility of the Owls not making the NCAA tournament is a real one.

It goes without saying that as Khalif Wyatt goes so go the Owls, and the senior accounted for 35 points, six rebounds, six assists, six steals and five turnovers on the night. While there’s no doubt that Wyatt is one of the Atlantic 10’s best players, could the fact that Temple still relies so much on their star be the reason for their struggles in conference play?

Remove Wyatt’s 9-of-20 night from the equation and the other Owls combined to shoot 15-of-43 from the field, with Scootie Randall (15 points) and Dalton Pepper (13) accounting for ten of those 15 field goals. And Anthony Lee, the team’s second-leading scorer, shot 0-of-1 from the field and scored all five of his points from the foul line.

Consistency has been an issue for the Owls, whose December victory over then-No. 3 Syracuse seems to have come ages ago. Add to that a defensive effort that didn’t show up until late in the game (Duquesne shot 49% from the field and hit ten three-pointers) and the end result is a loss that does serious damage to the Temple resume.

The good news for Temple is that they’ll have opportunities to not only improve their resume but also claw their way back into the conversation for a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament, beginning with a game at UMass on Saturday night.

“We have presented ourselves with an extraordinarily difficult challenge as we move forward in the last seven games,” noted Dunphy. “But that’s who we are and we need to respond right now.”

But in order to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, Temple’s ancillary parts need to step up and take some of the weight off of Wyatt’s shoulders. While he’s capable of carrying Temple offensively, it’s going to take more than that to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.