Temple Basketball: Owls Need to Use Win over Charlotte as Catalyst to Finish Hot

Nick LantzCorrespondent IIFebruary 7, 2013

Wyatt and the Owls need to get hot.
Wyatt and the Owls need to get hot.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Temple Owls have been struggling as of late, especially when it comes to closing out games, but will need to use their latest win to spark a run.

With just nine games left, Temple has the chance to solidify an NCAA tournament bid. However, it will need to get hot and string together a streak of wins.

Temple (15-7) got a big victory Wednesday night over the Charlotte 49ers, hanging on to win 89-88. Despite coming away victorious, the Owls showed the biggest weakness that has slowed their success.

The Owls have a problem with blowing leads and finishing off games. They blew a 13-point first-half lead over the 49ers and Charlotte tied things up at 41 at the half.

Later in the game, the Owls notched a 12-point lead with 3:37 remaining in the game thanks to a three-pointer by senior Jake O'Brien. Temple would again blow its lead, giving Charlotte multiple chances to tie the game in the final 27 seconds.

Missed free throws and turnovers down the stretch were the main reasons for the Owls' late-game struggles. Senior Scootie Randall turned the ball over three times in the final two minutes and Khalif Wyatt, another senior, turned the rock over twice during that stretch.

In the their 69-70 loss to Saints Joseph's on Saturday, the Owls similarly lost a nine-point lead with 5:39 left in the game.

This is something that Temple must improve in order to put together a much-needed hot streak. The Owls are currently tied for ninth in the A-10. In order to make the tourney, they will have to win the majority of their remaining games—all against conference foes.

Temple needs to use this victory over Charlotte as a boost to put together a string of conference wins. Charlotte (17-5) has put together a solid season, now fourth in the A-10 standings. The 49ers are No. 54 in RPI according to ESPN.

The win by Temple was an important, much-needed one against a tough team. The Owls are No. 47 in ESPN RPI, mainly due to their tough schedule and a key win over No. 7 RPI Syracuse.

As of February 5, Joe Lunardi has Temple listed as one of the last four teams to make the tournament.

The Owls will need to finish strong and pick up some wins over the stronger A-10 opponents. Remaining games for Temple include home matchups against La Salle (No. 27 RPI) and VCU.

Temple has been solid at home, winning 10 of its 12 games at the Liacouras Center. Five of its next nine games are at home and it will need to continue its home-court success.

In order for Temple to make the 2013 NCAA Tournament, it must put together a winning streak coming off of Wednesday's big win. Picking up a win over La Salle or VCU would also give the Owls a good chance of making the tourney.

Otherwise, they will need to be impressive in the A-10 tournament.