Temple guard Wyatt paces offense with 33 points, hits all 15 free throws; Temple limits Carter-Williams, disrupts Syracuse offense
NEW YORK – Syracuse had no answer for Khalif Wyatt. Wherever he was on the floor, Wyatt managed to make plays.
The Temple guard shot 8-of-17 from the floor and hit an astounding 15 free throws for a total of 33 points to lead the Owls to an 83-79 upset win over No. 3 Syracuse Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Wyatt paced Temple’s offense, sliced through the Orange’s zone and knocked down shots from the outside.
Owls head coach Fran Dunphy said Wyatt challenged himself to play better than he did in Temple’s 72-62 loss to Canisius Wednesday. In that game, Wyatt missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
“Khalif took the challenge saying to himself that he did not play well the last time out, ‘I need to make my team better,” Dunphy said. “He made some really good plays when we were struggling to score and stay in the game with Khalif making plays.”
Wyatt hit a 3-pointer with about four minutes remaining in the first half to cut Temple’s deficit to two, making it 31-29 Syracuse. And then he hit his second 3 of the game with just 30 seconds left in the half to make it 40-38 SU heading into the break.
With Wyatt playing so efficiently, Temple’s offense ran smoothly. The Owls often tried to score in transition, but they also didn’t force shots in their half-court offense. Wyatt and Temple were patient, but Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said the Owls’ methodical approach wasn’t anything different than what his team has seen all season.
“Same pace we played every game this year,” Boeheim said. “Everybody we play plays that way. Everyone we play takes the whole shot clock, everyone does that and we are used to that.”
Either way, Temple fed off the way Wyatt played. The guard had all four of his assists in the second half. Syracuse’s defense started paying more and more attention to where he was on the floor, leaving other Owls shooters room to work.
“I think with Wyatt being able to do whatever he wanted in the second half, we kind of shaded to his side a little bit more, and left the middle wide open,” Syracuse guard Brandon Triche said. “We knew they had shooters once they got their feet set.”
Game to forget for Carter-Williams
For the first time this season, Michael Carter-Williams was reduced to being a nonfactor for Syracuse. And it was all because of the way Temple approached the nation’s leader in assists.
Carter-Williams shot a paltry 3-of-17 from the floor, missed eight free throws and committed four personal fouls. He came into the game leading the nation in assists per game at 10.7, but could only dish out six on Saturday.
Despite his struggles, Carter-Williams finished the game with 13 points in 33 minutes. But the Owls negated his ability to create plays for the Orange’s scorers on the perimeter.
Temple never moved off of Syracuse’s shooters to help defend Carter-Williams so he had nowhere to which to pass. That meant he either had to drive the basket or take a jumper, but it also threw off the rhythm of the Orange’s offense.
“We talked a little about denying him the ball, but he’s so good, so fast and so long, that was difficult to do,” Dunphy said. “I think he’s a really good player.”
So by clamping down on the Orange’s shooters, Carter-Williams’ ability to run the offense took a hit. James Southerland, one of Syracuse’s best 3-point shooters, didn’t get many open looks to the basket and missed both of his 3-point attempts.
With the Owls’ method of throwing off Carter-Williams and the SU offense working so effectively, Syracuse could see a lot more of it as the season progresses.
“I think a lot of teams are going to start doing that,” Carter-Williams said. “They see I pass the ball, so I’ve got to get used to it.”
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