Written by: Sam Cohn
On Wednesday night, the Owls put home the first basket and never looked back on the lead, dominating the UConn Huskies 81-63 and proving they’re still a legitimate tournament contender.
“We talked about Temple being a team that really likes to start fast offensively with the firepower they have on the perimeter,” said UConn’s first year Head Coach Dan Hurley.
Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy has given sophomore forward Justyn Hamilton an increased workload in the last few games and he showed exactly why he deserves those minutes right from the jump.
“I just think my confidence level is at an all-time high right now,” said Hamilton after putting up a career-high 13 points and adding three rebounds.
He showed his aggressiveness in the post at both ends of the floor creating space off the dribble for mid-range jump shots along with holding his own defensively against the Husky’s much stronger forwards.
The Owls got into a scoring groove, exploiting every hole in the Husky’s defense and sharing the ball with consistency to score at a high rate. The team shot a combined 52% with five different guys posting numbers in double figures.
After the game Dunphy praised the success of each player down the line that did their job and made plays to contribute to playing effective team basketball.
Temple was in the driver’s seat for all 40 minutes, but UConn did have a few players make a difference at their end of the floor.
Forward Josh Carlton and guard Christian Vital both racked up 18 points to go along with 13 rebounds, respectively.
Carlton and Vital were the only working pieces for the Huskies as Temple’s aggressive defensive style held the rest of the team in check both in the paint and extending out to the perimeter.
Shizz Alston Jr. added 18 points and Nate Pierre-Louis put up 17 points to round out the leading scorers for Temple.
“I really feel like this was a good win to get us ready for the next part of our season,” explained Shizz looking forward to the final stretch of games.
The Owls currently sit as a strong bubble team with high hopes of punching their ticket to the big dance in March.
With a record of 17-6 overall, they’ll head to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa on Saturday in hopes of continuing their strong play.
WHIP Player of the Game
Justyn Hamilton has made his way into the starting lineup and continues to show why he belongs there. He was a major difference maker putting up the Owls’ first four points and tallying 13 on the night. His defensive presence was felt by the Huskies each time down the court. As a guy who has fought to get minutes all season, it finally seems as if he’s at the point where he is getting the opportunities and making the most of them. Expect to see Hamilton shift into a larger role for this team.