Written By Tom Hanslin @tomhanslin
ORLANDO– After coming off a near must-win home victory against South Florida last Thursday, Temple opened up the floodgates in Florida, posting a season-high in points, as the Owls defeated Central Florida in grand style 86-62.
For Temple’s senior guard Will Cummings, he recognized the evening as his final homecoming game in the cherry and white, as many friends and family made the two-hour drive south from Jacksonville to watch Cummings take the court in Orlando. The Florida native made the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a nagging left leg injury on Jan. 10 in a loss to conference-leading Tulsa. Cummings took advantage of the friendly crowd and finished with 14 points, along with three assists and four rebounds.
“I like the spread out scoring we had,” Cummings said. “I like everybody getting involved and scoring baskets.”
For the remaining Owls, the red-hot shooting began immediately after the opening tip-off, as Temple tallied a 37-point first half, leading UCF by 19 heading into the locker room. Over the Owls’ rough patch of losses a little over two weeks ago, the shot selection by Temple was poorly chosen, while the defense was sluggish and the transition game lacked intensity. For a team that had not put up major numbers on the offensive side of the ball all season, Temple turned on the jets Wednesday night, scoring 18 points off of 16 forced turnovers.
Jesse Morgan lead the Owls in scoring for the fourth-straight game, as he brought home 15 points, shooting an impressive 6-11 from the field. The Owls also excelled behind the arc, as the 3-ball has become Temple’s favorite look, shooting 10-18 on the loose and stagnant UCF defenders.
“We just want to come out and make statements,” said Cummings. “We’re looking forward to watching film of the teams that we played and getting ready for next game.”
Temple also successfully managed to maintain a large second half lead, which has been a re-occurring issue for the majority of the season. The offensive route lead to a little help from the bench, as guard Devin Coleman drilled 6 of 7 from the floor, tying teammate Will Cummings with 14 points.
Temple currently stands at 14-7 overall and 5-3 in conference play (5th place in the AAC). With a difficult stretch of road games nearing soon, the Owls must continue to execute productively against their weaker opponents.
“It feels good to get a win and move on to the next one,” Cummings said. “We need let teams know we’re back and ready to play.”
The Owls continue their run for the tournament this Saturday as they host 13-8 Tulane at noon.