No. 18 Temple 70, N. Illinois 60
Ryan Brooks and his Temple teammates have been looking forward
to this weekend’s ?s game with top-ranked Kansas for weeks. Still,
the 18th-ranked Owls weren’t about to overlook Northern
“We stressed all through the week to stay focused,” said
Brooks, who scored 19 points in Temple’s 70-60 victory Wednesday
night. “With three games this week, each one was treated as the
most important game of the year. (Now) we’re very excited for the
opportunity we have and the position we’ve put ourselves in.”
Temple (11-2) had two Mid-American Conference opponents to take
care of this week before thinking about the Jayhawks. They walloped
Bowling Green 63-39 on Monday before putting together a second-half
surge to dispatch the Huskies in the first meeting between the
Juan Fernandez scored 26 points for the Owls, who never trailed.
Northern Illinois (2-8) made it competitive as it cut an 18-point
first-half deficit to 35-33 early in the second half.
“Teams are going to bring their `A’ game when they play us,”
Brooks said. “We have a target on our back and we’ve got to stay
focused. And we didn’t do that for the last 5 minutes of the first
half. We let them gain confidence and get back in the game.”
But Temple reasserted control by the midpoint of the second half
with a 12-2 run that restored a double-digit lead at 47-35.
Northern Illinois never got closer than nine points the rest of the
Fernandez was 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free
throw line for the Owls, who host Kansas on Saturday at the
Xavier Silas paced the Huskies with 26 points while Darion
Anderson added 15.
Fernandez started the deciding run with his fourth 3-pointer of
the game while Brooks followed with a layup and free throw 37
Lavoy Allen had 11 rebounds for Temple and Brooks grabbed
Temple, the nation’s top-ranked defense, had given up an average
of 53.9 points per game and held opponents to 35.6 percent shooting
from the field.
Northern Illinois shot 35.5 percent for the game. After shooting
just 25 percent (7 of 28) in the first half, the Huskies improved
to 44 percent (15 of 34) in the second.
“I think what makes them such a good defensive team is that
their offense is so good,” Huskies coach Ricardo Patton said.
“They put on a passing exhibition and know how to trust one
another on the offensive end. They understand how to play, they do
a nice job of sharing the ball.”