Memphis Blues

It was a familiar storyline for the Temple men's basketball team against No. 24 Memphis on Saturday. With a second-half lead and a chance to notch their first victory in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls once again failed to close out a win in the final minutes. The Tigers, fresh off an upset at No. 12 Louisville, pulled away for a 79-69 victory and kept the Owls winless in the American.

It was a familiar storyline for the Temple men's basketball team against No. 24 Memphis on Saturday afternoon.

With a second-half lead and a chance to notch their first victory in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls once again failed to close out a win in the final minutes.

The Tigers, fresh off an upset at No. 12 Louisville, pulled away for a 79-69 victory and kept the Owls winless in their first year in the American. Temple is 5-9 overall and 0-4 in the league, while Memphis improved to 12-3, 3-1.

The Owls led 49-48 with 13:41 to play, but the Tigers quickly turned the tables and led by double digits less than five minutes later. Temple pulled within five but could get no closer.

"I liked how we hung in the game," said Temple senior guard Dalton Pepper, who scored 24 points and played all 40 minutes. "We fought to the end. One or two more stops, one or two more makes and we're right there. I'm just happy with the guys and how they played and fought. Everybody did what they could. I'm happy with the way we played."

Will Cummings, who left Thursday's loss to the University of South Florida in the first half with concussion-like symptoms and Mark Williams, who sat out Thursday with a sprained ankle, both returned to action.

"Right before the game I got the OK to go," said Cummings, who scored 11 points and had five assists in 29 minutes. "I was good enough to play the game, so I played the game."

But it didn't matter for the Owls, who continued their spiral with their seventh loss in eight contests.

"I like where we're headed if we get everybody healthy," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "Having Will and Mark back gives us a sense of rotations we want to get to. We're still finding out who we are and we're in a league with very good teams.

"We've had our opportunity to get it done, and haven't for whatever reason. We can be good in this league. Help is sort of on the way for next year's group. It's just one of those things right now. We're plugging away and trying to be the best team we can be."

While Pepper continued his breakout senior season with 24 points, Quenton DeCosey continued his string of double-digit scoring in every game this season with 18.

"Temple is really, really good, Fran Dunphy is one of the best coaches in the business without question and one of the best people in the business," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. "Temple has a great team, not a good team, a great team. Those guards are excellent. We were fortunate and grateful to come out of here with a win.

"Dalton Pepper is a stud, Quenton DeCosey is a stud and Cummings is really good. Their perimeter players are really good and their bigs are good. They have a really good team."

So how did the Owls fall this time despite Pastner's glowing assessment? Well, the stat sheet told the story as Memphis grabbed 16 offensive rebounds – eight by Shaq Goodwin, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds – and held a 17-0 advantage in second-chance points and 19-2 edge in fast-break points.

Memphis also totaled 21 assists to 11 turnovers, while the Owls posted 10 assists to 12 turnovers.

"Offensive rebounding hurt us today," said Dunphy. "(Goodwin) had a couple offensive rebounds and stick-backs that hurt us."

The Owls' next chance for a win in the American comes Tuesday at Cincinnati.

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