A fast start helped Temple rout UConn.
Shizz Alston Jr. had 18 points and Nate Pierre-Louis scored 12 of his 17 points in Temple’s dominating first half to lead the Owls to an 81-63 victory over UConn on Wednesday.
Justyn Hamilton added 13 points for the Owls (17-6, 7-3 American Athletic Conference).
Temple made its first six shots and just kept on hitting. The Owls sank 10 of 11 to take a 25-10 lead, 13 of 16 to go in front 33-14 and entered the break ahead 46-20, setting a season-high for points in the first half.
“The hoop was looking real big for us early,” Alston said. “A lot of different guys were scoring.”
Temple made 18 of 29 field goals and 5 of 11 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
“It looks like you know what you’re doing when you make shots,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “Everybody participated. It looked like it was our night.”
The Huskies never got close in the second half, and the most excitement came with 16:20 remaining when Pierre-Louis finished a breakaway with a windmill dunk.
Josh Carlton and Christian Vital had 18 points apiece to pace UConn (13-10, 4-6).
Huskies coach Danny Hurley bemoaned his team’s play at the outset.
“We just were not ready to go,” Hurley said. “They were able to get comfortable and confident.”
“If we were a really good team, we’d get off to better starts,” Hurley added. “But we’re not a really good team. We got our butts kicked by a team that outclassed us today.”
UConn: The Huskies are continuing their rebuild under first-year coach Hurley. If Adams is out for any substantial time, it will hurt in the near term. However, the opportunity given to younger backcourt players could prove beneficial in the long term.
Temple: With eight regular-season games remaining, the Owls are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament in Dunphy’s final season at the helm. They will have to avoid hiccups in conference play, with a season-ending home game against Central Florida on March 9 looming as a potentially important contest should Temple continue winning.
The Huskies lost leading scorer Jalen Adams for the game to a left knee injury 5:54 into the contest when Temple’s J.P. Moorman II fell on Adams’ leg in a scramble near the basket. Adams tried to walk to the bench but couldn’t put pressure on his leg and had to be helped to the locker room by a teammate.
Adams, who entered averaging 17.7 points per game, returned to the court after being benched for insubordination by Hurley for the final 18 minutes of the Huskies’ 76-52 victory over East Carolina on Sunday.
Hurley said the injury was to Adams’ MCL, but the coach didn’t know the severity of it. Adams will have an MRI on Thursday.
UConn dropped to 0-5 in true road games.
UConn: Alterique Gilbert missed his third straight contest with a shoulder injury. Gilbert, who started all 20 games before getting hurt and entered third on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg), had three surgeries on his shoulder that cost him all but nine games over his first two seasons.
Temple: The Owls played without leading rebounder Ernest Aflakpui, who sat as a precaution because of a left knee injury. A 6-foot-10 senior, Aflakpui started every game this season entering Wednesday and is averaging 6.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. Dunphy said afterward that Aflakpui could have played if needed.
UConn: At Memphis Sunday.
Temple: At Tulsa Saturday.