By Sean Kennedy
Cincinnati 80, Temple 76
A furious rally fell just short for the Owls as they came all the way back from a 19-point second half deficit, only to lose in the final minute. A Dalton Pepper three completed the comeback at 76 a piece, but Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick was fouled driving to the hoop and sank both free throws. Temple had one final chance to win or send the game to overtime, but Josh Brown’s lay-up was rejected, sending the Owls home with their 8th straight loss and keeping them winless in conference play.
The only reason the Owls were even in that position was the incredible shooting of Dalton Pepper. Pepper sank 8 of 11 threes to score a career-high 33 points, well above his previous high of 26; 27 of those points came in the second half as he nearly carried Temple back to victory by himself. However, Sean Kilpatrick got things done for the Bearcats in the end, just as he had the majority of the game with a season-high 29 points. Kilpatrick assumed an even larger role in the Bearcats offense after big man Justin Jackson left the game early with an ankle injury. Overall, it was yet another performance for the Owls that was good, but not quite good enough. It had been 49 games since an opponent had scored 70 against the tough Cincinnati defense in regulation (h/t @jmverlin), which is quite the accomplishment, but Temple would rather have just earned the victory.
9:00 PM: Villanova (17-2, 6-1) @ Georgetown (11-8, 3-5 Big East) – Fox Sports 1
Another night, another tough test in the Big East for the Wildcats as they head down to the nation’s capital a Hoyas team desperate for a win after losing four straight. Last season, the Wildcats easily prevailed at home as Georgetown couldn’t handle the Villanova pressure, turning the ball over 22 times. This season, with Otto Porter, Jr. languishing on the Wizards bench, the scoring load has fallen on both sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (17.5 ppg) and senior guard Markel Starks (16.2 ppg). Smith-Rivera in particular has been especially proficient, shooting an outstanding 45% behind the arc and 47% from the field overall. Villanova was destroyed from the perimeter one week ago against Creighton and he would be the most obvious candidate to put forth a similar performance against them.
The Hoyas themselves do an excellent job guarding the three, with opponents shooting just 30% behind the arc against them. The Wildcats might be better served attacking on the interior, as they did last season with JayVaughn Pinkston tallying 20 points. The Hoyas are also once again in the bottom half of the nation in turnovers per game, so look for Villanova to get some easy points through their trapping defense. As we saw over the weekend against Marquette, these road contests can always be a struggle, but if Villanova plays to their capability, they should keep the Georgetown skid going.