Philadelphia – Temple defeated Memphis 77-66 Wednesday night in a battle of teams at opposite ends of the American Athletic Conference. The Owls started the game slow, mirroring their less than ideal start to conference play. But luckily for Temple, Memphis’ star 6-8 sophomore forward, Dedric Lawson, struggled mightily allowing the Owls to enter halftime with the score tied 30-30. Lawson is a do-it-all forward who is one of only three players in Division I averaging at least 19.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. But this was certainly not Lawson’s night as he shot just 2-of-8 from the field and pulled down a season-low 5 rebounds.
After a slow and boring first half, Temple flipped the switch in the second stanza behind the electric play of 6-4 sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr., who led all scorers with 22 points. Alston Jr. has scored 72 points in the last three games – 9 more points than he scored all of last season. “Shizz is constantly growing…. he manages games for us,” said Temple senior forward Mark Williams. Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith was also impressed with the sophomore guard adding, “he’s a very talented shooter…he can get by you…he’s the full package.”
The emergence of Alston Jr. as Temple’s primary scorer is in stark contrast to the precipitous decline of former leading scorer Obi Enechionyia. The 6-10 junior was averaging 21 points per game through Temple’s first seven games, which included neutral court wins against Florida State and West Virginia. In the 14 games since, he has yet to score over 16 points. Temple is going to need Enechionyia, who scored just seven points, to return to form if they are going to make a run in the AAC Tournament, and with several NBA scouts in attendance, Wednesday would have been a good time to turn it around.
Temple improves to 2-6 in the American Conference and 11-10 overall. The Owls have a key road stretch ahead with games Saturday and next Tuesday against Houston and Tulane. Memphis drops to 5-3 in conference and 15-6 overall. The Tigers face East Carolina at home on Saturday.
This article was written by Robert Smuckler, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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