A weak week for Owls

The Temple men’s basketball team went into this past week’s critical two-game road trip knowing a split would do just fine as it tries to get back to the NCAA Tournament. The Owls didn’t get it following up a Thursday night loss at SMU with a blowout 55-39 defeat at Tulsa on Sunday night.

The Temple men’s basketball team went into this past week’s critical two-game road trip knowing a split would do just fine as it tries to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

The Owls didn’t get it following up a Thursday night loss at SMU with a blowout 55-39 defeat at Tulsa on Sunday night.

Senior point guard Will Cummings was the only Owl in any kind of offensive rhythm and he spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble.

Cummings had 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while the rest of the team shot 9-for-50 (18 percent). The Owls were even more dreadful on three-pointers (1-for-14) and hit just 10-of-24 (41 percent) from the free-throw line.

The loss was a particularly damaging one on a number of levels for the Owls, who fell to 19-9 overall, 10-5 in the American. Tulsa is 19-7, 12-2.

Before this week, Temple was considered in solid position for an NCAA Tournament berth, with the Golden Hurricane right on the bubble. But now Tulsa has two win over the Owls and will finish higher than them in the conference.

Temple is 0-4 against SMU and Tulsa, not a good stat to put on a postseason resume. Its RPI of 31 and December win over Kansas is saving it right now, and while a bid still looks likely, a strong finish is important.

With the back-to-back losses, Temple is third place in the conference at 10-5 but with Cincinntii (9-5), Memphis (9-5) and Connecticut (8-6) right on its heels could finish anywhere from third to sixth.

Temple’s next two games are home against Houston and at East Carolina before what looms as a key season finale next Saturday at the Liacouras Center against Connecticut.

As it looks, the Owls should have a bye into the quarterfinals but Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut loom as the likely opponent. It’s likely Temple will need to win the last three regular-season games and the first-round AAC game – or at least three of four - to feel really good about its chances.

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