The Temple Owls played the nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night. Duke, coached by legendary Hall-of-Famer Mike Krzyzewski, came to town ranked third & fifth in the country (in the two major polls), sporting a 12-1 record. Temple, coached by Fran Dunphy, entered the game with a 9-3 record.
When the final buzzer sounded on Wednesday night, the Temple Owls (still without injured players Michael Eric & Scootie Randall) had a signature win for their program, with a capital “S”, and their fans had reason to rush the court in celebration.
The victory, 78-73, came in front of a sold-out crowd at the Wells-Fargo Center. It was the first win for the Owls in the building (in three tries) and the crowd was the third largest to ever watch a college basketball game in the arena (the two largest crowds took place during Villanova games). It was Temple’s first win over Duke since 1996 as The Blue Devils had won the previous nine match-ups.
No team polarizes college basketball fans quite like Duke. The Blue Devils are the college basketball version of the New York Yankees, people either love or hate them.
Duke jumped out to a 9-6 lead over the Temple Owls before the capacity crowd of 20,000+ shortly after the game tipped moments past 7pm. Temple went ahead for the first time a few minutes later 10-9 on a dunk by Anthony Lee. After several lead changes, Temple forged ahead 18-17 on a bucket by Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. Temple, paced by Jefferson and Aaron Brown, maintained the lead for much of the first half. Duke tied the game at 31-31 on a basket by Mason Plumlee but the Owls regained the lead on a basket by Jefferson. The half ended with the Owls in the lead 35-33. The only player for either team to score in double figures for the first half was Miles Plumlee with 12.
Temple started the second half on a 4-0 run to push their lead to 39-33, forcing the Blue Devils to call a timeout. Duke closed the margin to 41-39 on two made foul shots by Mason Plumlee. The Owls then soared to a 47-40 lead on a steal by T.J. DiLeo and a dunk by Aaron Brown. After the Blue Devils cut the lead to 49-45 , the Owls took a 10 point lead, 55-45, on consecutive triples by Ramon Moore and Khalif Wyatt.
The Owls never relinquished their lead in the second half and held off Duke for the upset win.
Temple’s upset victory was built on a foundation of balanced scoring. Five Owls scored in double figures, led by Khalif Wyatt with 22 points (5 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists). Hollis-Jefferson added 17 points, and Brown, Moore, and Lee each chipped in 11 (with Lee also leading the team in rebounding with 7). Juan Fernandez led the Owls in assists with 6, although he also committed 7 turnovers (to go along with just 4 points).
For Duke, it was was Miles Plumlee leading the way with 17 points. His brother, Mason Plumlee added 16 points and led the team in rebounds (13) and assists (4). Freshman Austin Rivers (son of NBA coach Doc Rivers) was the only other Blue Devil in double figures, adding 12 points.
Temple won the battle of the boards 30-29 and was +1 in assist-to-turnover ratio (Duke was -3). For the game, Temple shot an impressive .564% from the field including 50% from three-point range.
Next up for the Owls is an A-10 conference game on Saturday afternoon (4pm) as Temple hosts Dayton. Duke will also see action again on Saturday as they look to rebound from their loss in a game at Georgia Tech (12pm).
Temple’s win highlighted a great night for Philadelphia college basketball. LaSalle beat Xavier, St. Joe’s completed a big comeback win on the road against Duquesne, Drexel drubbed Towson, and Penn beat Lafayette.