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Owls Keep It Close Against No. 24 Memphis

Dalton Pepper and Temple fall short of upsetting No. 24 Memphis at home on Saturday January 11, 2014.
Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Temple Owls (5-9, 0-4) almost pulled off an upset against their American Athletic Conference foes No. 24 Memphis (12-3, 3-1) Saturday, but it was Shaq Goodwin and the Tigers who would eventually pull out the 79-69 victory on the road at the Liacouras Center.

This win would become Memphis’ second road win in the AAC this week after they were able to pull off an upset against No. 12 Louisville on Thursday.

Although Memphis gained a nine point lead early in the game, Temple was able to gain a 37-36 point lead off of a Dalton Pepper buzzer beater going into halftime. It wasn’t until the Owls switched defenses from man-to-man to zone in the second half that Memphis was able to take full control of the game.

Injuries have been plaguing the Owls all season and it was very apparent that injuries would affect Temple’s game plan. The Owls started off the season with limited depth in their roster. Not to mention their leading scorer, guard Will Cummings, recently went down with concussion-like symptoms late in Temple’s match-up against the University of South Florida.

The Owls are also currently lacking many options within their big men after forwards Daniel Dingle and Mark Williams went down with a torn meniscus and a sprained ankle, respectively. This allowed for sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin to have a field day. Goodwin was a menace in the interior for the Tigers, scoring 22 points and snagging 11 rebounds (8 coming off of the offensive glass).

Temple’s lack in depth would eventually prove to be the difference in the game. The Owls were able to penetrate through the Tigers backcourt early and often in this contest, getting quality opportunities at the basket. Unfortunately they could not keep up this intensity throughout the entire game due to their lack of options on the bench.

Not even Dalton Pepper’s 24 points and 8 rebounds would be enough to boost the Owls ahead of a highly talented Memphis team.

Memphis was able to spark a late run against the Temple zone, giving them a 10-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest. The Tigers would never look back after gaining this cushion in the closing moments of the contest.

The Tigers did a great job finding the high percentage shots and exploiting Temple’s weak frontcourt by getting the physical points in the paint. Although Memphis did not play to their potential in this David vs. Goliath situation, this win was important in retaining their NCAA rank.

Next Tuesday, Temple will go on the road to face Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see how the Owls, a team with nothing to lose, bounce back as they face a Bearcat squad who is on the verge of breaking into the NCAA rankings.