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Temple survives UMass, are tournament hopes still alive?

Feb 16, 2013, 10:29 PM EDT

Khalif Wyatt AP

AMHERST, Mass. — Nineteen seasons ago, John Chaney tried to fight then-UMass coach John Calipari in the post game press conference. In 2013, the Temple-UMass rivalry resumed with postseason implications.

Following an 83-82 road win over the Minutemen on Saturday, the Temple Owls keep NCAA tournaments hopes alive after doing its best to ruin them with a  84-83 home loss to Duquesne on Thursday night.

“It’s really important,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “We did not play well at home against Duquesne, Duquesne had a lot to do with that. They’re really coming on. It wasn’t surprising they got us. We’re just inconsistent enough to not win that game at home.

Khalif Wyatt scored 17 of his game high 24 points in the second half, knocking down 5-of-8 threes in the last 20 minutes. UMass cut the lead to one twice down the stretch, including a Freddie Riley three with 1:04 to go to cut the lead to 83-82. The Minutemen had a chance to win it with a 17 seconds to go, but the ball was deflected, and UMass couldn’t get a handle on it as time expired.

“I was just think they were giving Chaz [Williams] the ball,” said Dunphy. “Everybody but Anthony Lee, we’re going to switch on Chaz and just to help as much as we can on the weak side, and hope he doesn’t have one of those floaters that buries us.”

If Williams and UMass did bury Temple on Saturday with a game-winner, it would have essentially buried their season in the NIT. The win pushes Temple (17-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) over .500 in conference play and tied with Charlotte three games behind first-place VCU.

The Owls looked promising in non-conference play with a win over then-No. 3 Syracuse, Villanova and nearly knocking of Kansas in Lawrence.

In A10 play, the Owls have been inconsistent with losses to St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s and most recently to Duquesne. The bounce-back win was big for Temple, who have a difficult week coming up with games slated against La Salle and at Charlotte.

“That was a bad loss on Thursday, but the best thing about the loss was it was a quick turnaround, so we didn’t have much time to think about it or dwell on it,” said Wyatt. “We just want to make sure we’re one of those 68 teams.”

“We have to be a solid as we were in the second half on the defensive end, and we have to really be efficient on offense,” added Dunphy. “We have a tough week coming up with La Salle at home, and at Charlotte. This presents a tremendous challenge for us.”

Along with La Salle and Charlotte, Temple still has a makeup game against Detroit and a regular season finale against VCU.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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