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Second Half Burst Lifts Temple Past Wildcats 76-61
Tony Chennault

Dec. 6, 2012

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VILLANOVA, Pa. - Temple (6-0 overall, 1-0 Philadelphia Big Five) scored 18 of the first 20 points after the halftime break to erase a four-point deficit on its way to a 76-61 victory over Villanova here tonight. The Wildcats are now 4-4 overall, 0-2 in City Series action.

"I just thought Temple was really good tonight," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I felt like we played a very good first half. But in the second half, Scootie Randall and Khalif Wyatt really hurt us. Scootie scored and Khalif was really good off of ball screens. We really struggled with him in ball screens and he found open big men and shooters. I just like their team.

"Turnovers really hurt us."

The energy level inside the sold-out Pavilion was high from the outset and it seemed to rub off on both squads, each of whom was able to make shots early. The Wildcats dropped in their first four field goal attempts yet saw the Owls nearly match the productivity and it was 11-9 VU at the first official timeout with 15:42 left in the first half.

The Owls moved in front 14-11 thanks to a 9-0 surge but Villanova came right back to regain the lead at 15-14. Crisp shooting - VU drained 14-of-27 from the floor in the period - helped the Wildcats grab a 36-32 edge at intermission. Ryan Arcidiacono paced a balanced `Cat attack with nine points while James Bell added seven more. Randall led the Owls with 10 points.

Temple, though, grabbed the momentum with a 9-0 burst in the first four minutes as VU struggled to create offense. A pair of Darrun Hilliard free throws stemmed the surge momentarily but eight straight points from Randall opened up a 49-38 lead with 13:42 to play in the contest.

"That was the game right there," stated Wright. "That's not the kind of team you are going to press and make a run at - they have too many ball-handlers and passers. We started the second half with turnover and (another) turnover and you can't do that against a really good team."

Villanova did not record its first field goal of the second half until more than 10 minutes had elapsed. A 3-pointer from Tony Chennault ended the drought and narrowed the deficit to 50-42 before a Jake O'Brien basket restored the Owls' double digit advantage. Chennault then sank another triple, this one from the top of the key, to shave the gap to 52-45 with a little over eight minutes to play.

But Temple's defense was flavored with timely offense and the Owls were able to keep VU at arm's length the rest of the way.

"We tried to go inside a little bit but their team defense is outstanding," Wright said.

"We could have done a better job of decision making," added Bell. "We could have made better decisions and that would have cut down the turnovers."

On Saturday, the `Cats head to the Palestra to meet Penn at 8:00 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) and then are back at the Pavilion on Tuesday evening, Dec. 11, to host Saint Joseph's at 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU).

"The big factor for us is inexperience in playing together," noted Wright. "Arch is a freshman and Tony is playing with us for the first time. I think we can get that cleaned up a little bit. If you do that, you really help both your offense and defense."

"We just got to get our chemistry worked out," stated Chennault. "We've got a lot of new guys here and it's taking us time to learn how to play together."