By Ken Cross
Auburn struggled from the field in the first half – in fact, the Tigers shot only 24.4 percent, but hung around and maintained a presence before Temple closed on a 24-15 run over the last 7:50 to subdue the Tigers, 88-74 in the Charleston Classic semifinals at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.
Bryce Brown and Mustapha Heron nailed back-to-back triples to cut the Owls’ advantage to 70-67 with 5:06 remaining before Quentin Rose hit two threes in a 10-2 Owls run that saw them take an 80-69 lead with 2:32 left.
Brown and Heron struggled from the field all day as neither could seem to get into the rhythm of the offense. The back court duo were a combined 6-of-28, making three field goals each.
Anfernee McLemore kept the Tigers in the game with 12 of his game high 19 points in the second half. He was 7-of-11 from the floor and had seven rebounds to pace Auburn.
“Anferenee did a great job; he’s just so athletic,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, “He did a good job inside. He blocks a lot of shots
The Tigers’ last lead was at 56-54 with 10:17 remaining before Shizz Alston halted the momentum with a tear drop triple that lipped the rim went high in the air and fell through to allow the Owls to regain the lead at 57-56.
From there, the Owls took control of the second half as Alani Moore and Quentin Rose made key shots and got to the line.
Pearl would have like a little more patience by his team to keep Temple out of transition.
“I realize that the playmakers like Jared (Harper), Bryce, Mustapha are going to force the issue – they just forced it too much,” he explained, “I don’t remember them taking too many contested shots. It was just open shots that they didn’t knock down.”
Freshman Chuma Okeke followed up a solid 11-points, six rebounds effort in the win over Indiana State with 11 points in 21 minutes Friday afternoon. He nailed a couple of key threes early in the second half as the Tigers continue to fight with ferocity.
“I thought Chuma looked really good again; he doesn’t force things,” noted Pearl, “He probably could have done a little bit better job on the boards and could have been a little more aggressive out there. I thought he played well.”