PHILADELPHIA — The first time Connecticut and Temple played this season, the Huskies put on an offensive show.
The rematch featured an impressive performance on the other end of the court.
Connecticut held Temple to 33.9 percent shooting from the floor, and the Huskies overcame their own offensive struggles to record a 68-55 victory Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.
“Offensively it wasn’t our best game, but defensively we locked down, and that’s what we hang our hats on,” Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said.
Temple senior guard Dalton Pepper and sophomore wing Quenton DeCosey combined for 27 points but shot a combined 9-for-33 from the floor. The Owls made just 19 of 56 shots overall.
Shutting down those two, who are among a quartet of Temple players averaging more than 14 points per game, was a key for Connecticut.
“We had our share of open looks from the perimeter. Obviously we didn’t do a good job of knocking some of those down,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, whose team went 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range. “We struggled to score against a really good defensive team.”
It was the 14th time this season Connecticut held an opponent below 40 percent from the field, including three times in the past four games.
Temple, which dresses just eight scholarship players, was bothered by foul difficulties all evening. Starting point guard Will Cummings was limited to 26 minutes. He finished with 10 points and four fouls. Backup point guard Josh Brown went scoreless in 20 minutes.
Connecticut had four players finish in double figures, led by senior guard Shabazz Napier, who overcame a two-point first half to finish with 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Junior guard Ryan Boatright scored nine of his 14 in the first half, while junior forward DeAndre Daniels (13 points) and freshman center Amida Briham (10 points) also chipped in on the offensive end.
“It wasn’t a particularly good shooting night for (Napier), but he does other things,” Ollie said of his senior, who went 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, including 9-for-9 in the second half.
DeCosey led the Owls with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Temple got off to an encouraging start, as 3-pointers by Pepper and freshman forward Mark Williams gave the Owls a 15-8 lead.
Boatright, who did not play in the first matchup between the teams, a 90-66 Connecticut victory at the XL Center in Hartford, got the Huskies going with several impressive plays. A step-back 3-pointer to beat out the shot clock and a nice feed to Daniels for a slam were part of an 11-0 run that put Connecticut up 23-18 with less than six minutes left in the half.
“Boatright’s tough,” Dunphy said. “The one 3 that he made in the first half, you know you’re in a little trouble. I thought we guarded it as good as we possibly could, it was at the end of the shot clock, he throws it up and the ball goes in the basket. That kind of deflates you a little bit, inflates them and deflates us.”
UConn took a 33-25 lead into the locker room and would not trail the remainder of the contest.
NOTES: Temple played its third game in a row against a team ranked in the top 25, and it has games against No. 24 Memphis and No. 11 Louisville up next. If Memphis remains in the top 25, Temple would play five consecutive games against ranked opponents for the first time in program history. … Connecticut senior G Shabazz Napier was named the AAC Player of the Week after averaging 20.5 points and five rebounds in two wins last week. It was his fourth such honor this season. … Temple junior F Anthony Lee returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous game, a win over SMU. He was injured in a loss to Louisville. … Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie played in Philadelphia as a member of the NBA’s 76ers during parts of six seasons between 1999-2001 and 2004-08.
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