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Inconsistent Temple hoops squad won't go away

Just when you were ready to write off the Owls, they sock it to UConn.

For one night, the Temple Owls proved that their early-season success was not a fluke.

The Owls (11-10, 3-6) cruised to an 85-57 win, dismantling the UConn Huskies (11-10, 4-4) for their largest win of the season.

They’ll know how good they really are on Thursday night against No. 17 Wichita State (17-4, 7-2).

“Playing a good game like this, it kind of gives us momentum, going into (the Wichita State) game, which we need,” Temple senior Obi Enechionyia said. “Especially coming off a loss like at Cincinnati, this game was huge for us. We’re going to look to build on that momentum and go into that game with the same mindset we did today.”

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Despite having the country’s top strength of schedule and an RPI of 46, the Owls’ inconsistent play this season has taken them out of the March Madness bubble conversation all together.

Their struggle this season has been on offense. They’re averaging just 67.5 points per game as a team, which ranks 311th in the country.

Their top two offensive threats, sophomore Quinton Rose (14.2 PPG) and junior Shizz Alston Jr. (13.1 PPG), have been mightily inconsistent in the past month of the season. Rose had five games where he scored 14 or more points and five games where he scored nine or less. Alston had six games where he scored 12 or more points and four games where he scored five or less.

Their inconsistencies couldn’t be any clearer as a team than scoring 42 points on the road against Cincinnati this past Wednesday, to more than doubling that total just four nights later with 85 points at home on Sunday.

“We just kept at it, kept the pressure up, didn’t let down,” Enechionyia said, who had nine points and 10 rebounds Sunday. “We’ve had opportunities to have games like this, this season as well as a lot of games since I’ve been at Temple, but we just took our foot off the pedal, and tonight we didn’t. If we just keep the pressure, we can have more games like this.”

The Owls cannot afford any bad losses the rest of the season. If they can win eight of their next nine games and split their home and away series with the Shockers, they’ll have a strong case with the selection committee as an at-large bid, but anything outside of that would likely leave the Owls out of the conversation.

Thursday night’s game against the Shockers will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.