Temple makes believer of Fla.

Despite short roster, Owls win in rout, 75-54

Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - Temple wobbled on the NCAA bubble two weeks ago, in need of an Atlantic 10 Conference championship in order to secure a 12th straight appearance in the tournament for John Chaney, its venerable coach. After a sizzling weekend at the Superdome, where the Owls flew by Florida, 75-54, yesterday, they're one win away from their second regional final in three seasons.

Penn State, the No. 7 seed in the South, is the next test for 11th-seeded Temple (23-12), which posted its ninth straight win. The Owls got more hot shooting from senior Quincy Wadley, more guidance from junior point Lynn Greer and the defensive work that is Chaney's trademark. The 54 points matched the fewest third-seeded Florida (24-7) has scored in five seasons under coach Billy Donovan.

The Gators went to the NCAA final last year, when Temple was upset in the second round by Seton Hall. Point guard Pepe Sanchez and Baltimore's Mark Karcher moved on, and the Owls appeared headed for a fall when Chaney got rid of some malcontents and trimmed his roster to nine players. A majority of those are playing injured.

"We have certainly been walking a tightwire the last five weeks," Chaney said. "I can't help but applaud the four guys who are at practice all the time. The problem is that the guys who are at practice only play about three minutes, so it's almost like I'm talking to the wrong guys."

Asked the points Chaney emphasized, Greer said, "Coach says a lot of things, and some of them I may not remember."

Greer got a playful slap from his 69-year-old mentor, and the fact is, few teams embrace a system as well as Temple.

The Owls turned their matchup zone defense into a box and one, with someone shading Gators guard Brent Nelson at all times. He made four three-pointers, but was limited to 10 shots. At the other end, the zone that Florida employs to hide the man-to-man deficiencies of Nelson and Teddy Dupay was carved apart by Wadley over four decisive minutes in the first half.

Down 20-19, Temple scored 14 straight points, 12 on four Wadley threes. Florida had switched to man defense by the time the last one dropped to make it 33-30, but the damage was done. Alex Wesby extended the lead to 37-30, and in the second half, the Florida deficit ranged from 22 to 13 points.

"It demoralizes them," Wadley said. "It was the same as the first-round game against Texas. It's hard to come back against a team that practices ball control. We take our time. Teams have to force us into turnovers. Sometimes, that's something that takes them out of their game."

Wadley had a double double, with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Greer had 20 points and nine assists. A Florida team that lost forward Brent Wright and guard Justin Hamilton to injuries didn't have the weapons it did a year ago.

"Give Temple all the credit," Donovan said. "Their backcourt was phenomenal."

TEMPLE - Wesby 6-13 0-1 13, Hawkins 1-5 4-5 7, Lyde 4-8 3-3 11, Greer 6-13 7-7 20, Wadley 7-14 5-6 24, Jefferson 0-0 0-0 0, Rollerson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 19-22 75. FLORIDA - Bonner 5-12 2-6 13, Parker 1-3 2-2 5, Haslem 5-9 6-8 16, Dupay 2-11 0-0 6, Nelson 4-10 0-0 12, Greene 1-3 0-0 2, Halton 0-2 0-0 0, Colas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 10-16 54.

Halftime-Temple 45-25. 3-point goals-Temple 8-25 (Wadley 5-10, Hawkins 1-3, Greer 1-6, Wesby 1-6), Florida 8-29 (Nelson 4-8, Dupay 2-9, Parker 1-3, Bonner 1-5, Greene 0-2, Halton 0-2). Fouled out-Greene. Rebounds-Temple 37 (Wadley 10), Florida 31 (Bonner 11). Assists-Temple 14 (Greer 9), Florida 14 (Nelson 4). Total fouls-Temple 17, Florida 21. A-N/A.

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