The effects of a lengthy layoff might have contributed to Temple’s first loss of the season. The No. 21 Owls won’t have to wait long for a chance to bounce back from that defeat.
Less than 24 hours after being upset in their opener of the Old Spice Classic, the Owls face another difficult challenge against Georgia in the consolation bracket Friday night in Orlando, Fla.
Temple (2-1) is the only ranked school in the eight-team field, but the Owls had not played since rolling over Toledo 82-49 on Nov. 14. They showed their rust by shooting a season-low 33.3 percent and committing 16 turnovers in a 57-50 loss to a rebuilding California squad Thursday.
With four of its top five scorers back from last season’s 29-6 NCAA tournament team, Temple was deserving of its preseason No. 22 ranking. The Owls moved up a spot in the poll after shooting 48.8 percent and giving up an average of 52.5 points in its two wins.
However, the Owls’ time in the Top 25 could be short-lived after a 16-1 Cal run late in the second half erased their seven-point lead.
Temple’s talented backcourt of Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez combined for 14 points on 4-of-25 shooting from the field. The pair went 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
“We did a bad job of maintaining the lead and a bad job of finishing off the game,” said senior Lavoy Allen, who had 13 points to the lead the Owls.
While Temple has an opportunity to quickly rebound from that defeat, the Owls won’t have an easy task against a Georgia team that fell 89-83 in double-overtime to Notre Dame on Thursday.
Georgia (3-1) held a 12-point lead at halftime, but went scoreless for more than six minutes in the second half while the Irish used a 14-0 run during that stretch to force overtime. The Bulldogs, who went 10 of 20 from the free-throw line, were outscored 20-14 in the second overtime.
“We’re going to have to bounce back because we’ll be playing a good team (Friday),” Georgia coach Mark Fox told the school’s official website.
Leading scorer Travis Leslie (19.3 ppg) had a season-high 23 points with nine rebounds while junior Trey Thompkins added 13 with 10 boards off the bench in his first game of the season for the Bulldogs.
Thompkins, who averaged a team-leading 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain but played 33 minutes in his season debut.
Georgia beat Temple 73-60 in the schools’ only previous meeting in the first round of the 1982 postseason NIT.