Owls redeem themselves after hard loss
One day later, Temple finally lived up to its Top 25 ranking.
Scootie Randall scored a career-high 18 points, Ramone Moore had 14 and No. 21 Temple beat Georgia 65-58 on Friday night after a humbling loss in the tournament's opener.
Juan Fernandez made a huge three-pointer late and Rahlir Jefferson converted a three-point play with 41.4 seconds remaining to lift the Owls (3-1), who rebounded from a tough loss to unranked California in the first round.
''After that loss, it hurt us a lot,'' said Randall, who had 15 of his points in the first half. ''I think we prepared a lot for that game, and for us to lose that game like that it was hard on us over the hours after the game. We had to be prepared. We had a little shootaround earlier and we went harder than we usually went, and I think that helped us along.''
The Bulldogs didn't respond quite the way they hoped from their first defeat.
Gerald Robinson scored 16 points and Trey Thompkins had 13 in only his second game this season for Georgia (3-2), which looked exhausted and out of rhythm after losing in double overtime to Notre Dame a night earlier.
''I thought both teams played tired,'' Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ''We just couldn't string together enough stops, especially in the second half, and our defense failed us.''
Both teams are getting used to playing tight games.
Still recovering from an emotional loss to the Irish on Thursday night, the Bulldogs fell behind early. Temple scored the game's first six points, but there were eight lead changes and seven ties in the first half alone.
There were none in the second half
The Owls slowly pulled away with a 15-6 run to start the second half, mixing up their defenses and becoming more efficient offensively. They swarmed Thompkins, Georgia's leading scorer and rebounder last year, on every touch and tried to push the 6-foot-10 forward out of the paint.
The Bulldogs managed to keep it close.
Khaliff Wyatt missed an alley-hoop dunk, then grabbed two rebounds before finishing for a three-point play to trim Temple's lead to 54-51. Any hope of a comeback quickly faded when Fernandez made a three-pointer from well beyond the arc with about two minutes remaining to put the Owls ahead by eight points. Jefferson followed with a three-point play a minute later.
''I was real proud of our team,'' Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. ''I thought we did a really good job. Scootie saved us in the first half. He was just tremendous the first half. He kept us in the game after he had a very tough night last night. So, it's a great comeback for Scootie. I think our whole team played better. I'm proud of what they did.''
Temple certainly needed this one.
The Owls had cruised through their first two games until Cal knocked them off in the first round. And now they're about to begin the toughest stretch of their schedule: No. 1 Duke, No. 7 Villanova, No. 16 Georgetown and Maryland are all upcoming.
Both the Owls and Bulldogs will finish up in the losers' bracket Sunday after falling in their respective openers. Temple plays Texas A&M, and Georgia will face Manhattan.
Notre Dame and Wisconsin will be playing in the title game.