Temple, South Florida both looking to halt skids

NCAA Basketball

South Florida and Temple are both looking to snap losing skids as they open a back-to-back set Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Temple (4-9, 3-9 American Athletic Conference) will host the front end and then travel to Tampa on Wednesday. The Owls have dropped five consecutive games.

South Florida (7-8, 3-6) has dropped three consecutive games following its nearly month-long COVID-19 hiatus.

The Bulls were initially scheduled to face SMU on Saturday in Dallas but the game was postponed due to the severe winter storm affecting the area. The AAC rescheduled the Bulls to take on Temple, thereby making up for a game which had previously been postponed due to COVID issues.

The Owls are coming off a 72-66 setback on the road Tuesday night at Tulsa.

Temple finished strong with a season-high 44 points in the second half, led by Khalif Battle’s 21 points and seven rebounds. But the Owls committed a costly 19 turnovers while Tulsa protected the ball much better with only seven.

The Owls could be without freshman guard Damian Dunn again. Dunn — Temple’s leading scorer with 13.8 points per game, missed the Tulsa game with a knee injury and was pulled off the practice court on Friday by Temple coach Aaron McKie.

“Game-time decision right now,” McKie told reporters after Friday’s practice. “Nothing has really changed with him. Who knows? Maybe from now until tip-off time he’s feeling better. But we’ll see. As of now he’s a game-time decision.”

Jeremiah Williams finished with 11 points and Jake Forrester had 10 points for Temple.

Battle is averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while Forrester and Williams are averaging 9.7 and 9.2 points per game, respectively.

In South Florida’s most recent game — an 81-65 loss Wednesday against rival UCF — the Bulls shot just 31.7 percent overall and 22.7 percent (5 of 22) from 3-point range while allowing the Knights to shoot 51.0 percent overall and 42.9 percent (9 of 21) from deep.

South Florida couldn’t capitalize on a strong performance from Alexis Yetna, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. The absence of injured 7-foot junior forward Michael Durr hurt the Bulls, who were outrebounded 40-34 overall.

“Either right around the rim or some really good looks off of some offensive action, dribble pull-ups, some open threes, and when you’re not defending and rebounding well, you got to really be efficient offensively, and we just couldn’t make enough shots,” South Florida coach Brian Gregory said.

–Field Level Media

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