You had to look long and hard to find many positives for the Temple men's basketball team in…
The Owls got back on the winning track, outlasting an improved Towson team, 72-61, and overcoming Tiger junior forward Jerrelle Benimon, who scored 30 points and added 18 rebounds. Temple is 7-1 overall.
The Owls' Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson countered with a career-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists, a block and three steals. With Scootie Randall and Khalif Wyatt struggling from the field again, Hollis-Jefferson hit on nine of a team-high 16 shots.
"I made shots," said Hollis-Jefferson with a shrug. "I've been working on mid-range shots, working over summers and during the course of the year, putting time in the gym."
Said Temple coach Fran Dunphy: "Rah was absolutely terrific. … Six assists, hit a number of mid-range jump shots. If we're going to be a good team, he has to hit mid-range jump shots."
Randall finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists after being held scoreless in a first half Temple finished with a 32-26 lead. He said he's not concerned that he has cooled after a scorching start to the season.
"I've been playing basketball all my life, you'll have four, five, six games where shots aren't falling," said Randall, who was 4-for-13. "You can't let it frustrate you. I can help the team by rebounding and distributing the ball."
One of those players he doesn't mind distributing to is Hollis-Jefferson, who is showing he can be more than a rebounding and defensive presence.
"We know who can make shots, and Rahlir can make shots," said Randall. "His time is now."
Towson closed as close as four at 41-37 five minutes into the second half, but the Owls went on a 12-2 run to put the lead into double figures and the Tigers never seriously threatened again.
Temple won despite shooting 38 percent from the field and 23.5 percent on threes, though it once again shared the ball well with 17 assists to eight turnovers. Towson had just four assists and 19 turnovers.
"There was nothing pretty about this, and I think I've said that a number of times, but we'll take it," said Dunphy.
The Tigers, who were the worst team in college basketball a few years ago, have clearly improved. They fell to 4-6 with the loss but were coming off a 46-40 defeat against No. 15 Georgetown.
"We play them next year, and I can't say I'm looking forward to it," said Dunphy.
He particularly won't like trying to slow down Benimon again.
"I just think he's a hard guy to guard," said Dunphy. "We lost him twice on screens, but for the most part. … This is going to sound crazy, but we contained him. He just plays as hard and as competitively as anybody I've seen."
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