But he had no explanation for why the Wolfpack played an uninspired first half in Friday's second-round NCAA Tournament game. Gottfried's best answer: the Temple Owls. Khalif Wyatt scored 31 points and Jake O'Brien added 18, including four 3-pointers, as No. 9 seed Temple held on for a 76-72 victory over No. 8 North Carolina State at University of Dayton Arena. Temple forced 13 turnovers and had five steals, which helped the Owls overcome a second half in which N.C. State shot 70.4 percent to get to within three points on three occasions late in the game. "The first half was about as good as we can play," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We prepared for them to make a run. We just had enough to survive and move on." Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson added 12 points for the Owls, who advanced to face the winner of the later game between top seed Indiana and No. 16 seed James Madison in the third round Sunday at Dayton. "There's no reason to come out sluggish when it's the NCAA championship," said N.C. State guard Scott Wood, who tried to rally the Wolfpack with two late 3-pointers. "We needed to come out with a little better energy. The first half put us in a hole." North Carolina State (24-11) got 22 points from Lorenzo Brown and 20 from C.J. Leslie. "You've got to give Temple credit," Gottfried said. "We had great days of practice with great energy. I didn't see this coming. We wanted to play longer than one game in this tournament. But I'm proud of what these seniors have been able to accomplish." Temple (24-9) lost five of its previous six NCAA Tournament games, including first-round defeats as a No. 5 seed the last two seasons. But the Owls started strong on Friday. The Wolfpack, which ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 13th nationally at 77.5 points per game, was held in check by an aggressive Temple defense. The Owls hit five of their first eight shots, including 3-pointers by Cummins and Randall. Hollis-Jefferson's jumper put Temple ahead, 12-4, prompting a Wolfpack timeout. At that point, every Temple starter had scored. But following the timeout, the Wolfpack went on an 11-3 run to tie the score, 15-15. But what appeared to be a wake-up call for N.C. State was short-lived as Temple responded with a 9-0 run. Consecutive baskets by Wyatt put the Owls ahead, 28-18. A 3-pointer by O'Brien gave them a 13-point lead and N.C. State called another timeout with 7:13 left in the half. The Owls extended their run to 18-3 in a little more than six minutes. Temple, which had three turnovers and nine assists in the first half, led, 38-22, at halftime, as O'Brien scored 13 points. North Carolina State committed 10 turnovers and seemed out of sync offensively through most of the first half. Leslie scored 10 first-half points for the Wolfpack on 5-of-8 shooting. Wyatt, who scored 11 points in the first half, began the second half with back-to-back baskets, then left because of a jammed thumb with 16:31 left. He returned less than two minutes later. Trailing, 47-30, early in the second half, the Wolfpack finally woke up. A 9-0 run got them within eight points with 13:08 remaining. Temple led by 12 with fewer than six minutes remaining. But Wood hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Temple's lead to 63-60 with 3:09 left. They were Wood's first two field goals of the game and he finished with 10 points. Brown missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 1:52 left and N.C. State was within three points on two occasions in the waning seconds, but Temple hit its free throws to seal the victory. "They made some plays, and Wood made some tough shots," Wyatt said. "But we were ready to play. We had some good intensity." NOTES: North Carolina State's 24 victories this season are the most since the 1983 national championship team went 26-10. ... Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried is the first coach in N.C. State history to take each of his first two teams to the NCAA Tournament. ... Temple is one of eight teams (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan State, Wisconsin) to compete in the last six NCAA Tournaments. ... N.C. State is 6-2 all-time vs. Temple. The Owls have won the last two meetings.
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