The Owls Upset Cincinnati to Celebrate the New Year, Snap Bearcats’ Winning Streak

Written by: Adrian Maghacot

Photo by: Brian Mermelstein

Temple (8-7, 2-0 AAC) defeated Cincinnati (10-5, 1-1 AAC) 70-61 at the Liacouras Center on New Year’s Day to start 2023 undefeated.

This game marked the first time since the 2014-15 season that the Owls started 2-0 in conference play. That Temple team finished with a record of 26-11, including 13-5 in the AAC, and lost in the NIT semifinal round against eventual champion Miami.

Sophomore guard Jahlil White led the charge after as he scored 14 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds en route to his first double-double since February 27, 2022 against Tulane.

“We’re at the point of the season where my confidence is at a peak,” White said. “I didn’t score in the first game and that was a confidence shaker, but I’m straight now.”

Turning the ball over was the Owl’s biggest struggle in the first half as they committed nine turnovers as opposed to Cincinnati, who had seven the entire game. Temple would finish the game with 15 total turnovers.

Cincinnati took advantage of the Owls’ mistakes by scoring 11 points off turnovers, but were not able to shoot efficiently and finished the half with a 29% field goal percentage.

However, White carried the team on both sides of the ball, scoring 10 points on a perfect shooting percentage while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out two assists by halftime. 

Temple Sophomore forward Zach Hicks was also productive in the first half, scoring nine points on 3-4 from beyond the three-point line. 

With 5:20 left before halftime, Temple took the lead for the second time after being on a 17-2 run and did not look back. 

Despite scoring a point in the first half, Temple redshirt sophomore guard Khalif Battle started gaining momentum. The third-leading scorer in the AAC shot for 13 more points including 3-4 from beyond the arc in the second half.

The Owls’ biggest success came from rebounding as they outrebounded Cincinnati 46-28. The team attributed this to limiting Cincinnati redshirt sophomore forward Viktor Lakhin, the third-leading rebounder in the conference, to 27 minutes of action and having him foul four times. 

“Coach says be solid and run the entire game,” While said. “You come out and come into the game with all your energy.”

With Cincinnati looking to forge a nine-point comeback with five minutes left on the game clock, Hicks made another three and sophomore forward Nick Jourdain made a statement dunk to secure the win with one minute left. 

Alongside Battle and White’s dominant scoring performance, sophomore guard Hysier Miller led the team in assists with seven. The Owls were almost perfect from the free-throw line, making 14 of their 15 attempts.

“At the end of practice, we were shooting free throws in some sort of competition,” Temple head coach Aaron McKie said. “We put them in an adverse situation where they’re comfortable on the line in game situations.”

Cincinnati redshirt senior guard Landers Nolley II led the team in scoring with 15 points. Lakhin finished the game with 11 points and was limited to four rebounds.

Nolley II was only able to shoot the three-pointer twice, which is a season-low for the team’s leading-scorer, making just one.

Cincinnati will travel to Kansas to play Wichita State (7-7, 0-2 AAC) at Charles Koch Arena on Thursday, January 5 at 9:00 PM. 

The Owls will travel to Tampa to face South Florida (7-7, 0-1 AAC) at the Yuengling Center on Wednesday, January 4 at 7:00 PM. 


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