After leading by as many as sixteen points in the first half, VCU lost to Temple 84-76 in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
After leading by as many as sixteen points in the first half, Virginia Commonwealth University lost to Temple, 84-76, in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
Moments after a senior day presentation, Temple jumped out to a 12-3 lead behind stifling defense and the hot hands of Temple’s all-senior starting lineup. VCU responded with an 18-0 run. Full court pressure did little to disrupt the Owls, but the Rams played some of their best half court defense of the season while also putting on an offensive clinic.
After a five minute scoring drought, Temple started scoring again but they had no answer for VCU’s offense. Over one stretch, the Rams connected on 15 of 21 shot attempts en route to a 41-25 lead. VCU would finish the first half a perfect 6-6 from 3-point range.
Temple responded. Jake O’Brien hit a couple big shots, Scootie Randall drained a 3-pointer, and the Owls started going to the free-throw line. VCU committed 12 first half fouls, and Temple connected on 13-17 free-throws. The second half was no better as VCU committed 10 fouls and Temple hit 13 of 14 free-throws.
Despite playing some of their best offense of the season, VCU only led 41-37 at halftime. Both teams made runs in the first half, but the second half was all Temple.
Wyatt scored 18 points in the second half and VCU’s half court defense regressed. A Jake O’Brien 3-pointer tied the game at 46 points. With Temple abusing VCU’s defense, the Rams needed its early firepower more than ever but it was nowhere to be found. The Rams finished the second half 2-of-9 from 3-point range, and they finished the game with an uncharacteristically high 14 turnovers. Temple led by as many as 15 points before a late VCU run limited the final margin to eight points.
While Temple’s seniors were the story, two of VCU’s youngest players were instrumental in the Ram’s early success. Melvin Johnson finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but Jarred Guest played great defense during his 12 minutes. VCU needed his size against Temple’s huge front court, and he was effective but he continues to struggle with fouling.
Top performers: Temple’s seniors
Khalif Wyatt and Jake O’Brien were exceptional, and Temple’s five seniors finished with 71 of 85 points and 21 of 27 rebounds for the team. Wyatt handled the full court pressure with poise and used his 215 pound frame to run over VCU’s back court all game. Wyatt also finished with four steals as the Owl surprisingly won the turnover battle. O’Brien finished with five crushing 3-pointers, and he tallied three blocks while playing great defense against VCU’s front court and penetrating guards.
- VCU finished a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe. VCU has been perfect under Smart only once before, the Rams went 9-9 in a loss to UAB in 2010.
- VCU is 24-0 when forcing 15+ turnovers and 0-7 when forcing fewer than 15 turnovers.
- In January, Melvin Johnson went 2-19 (.105) from 3-point range including 17 consecutive misses. Since then he is 13-24 (.542) with at least one 3-pointer in every game.
- 26 is the most free-throws hit against VCU since November 18th, 2009.
- VCU is 4-4 when ranked in the AP Top 25 and 20-3 when not ranked in that poll.
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