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Rutgers men's basketball loses for 1st time this season to Temple

Despite another dominant performance from junior center Clifford Omoruyi, the Rutgers men's basketball team walked out of its latest match with a loss at the hands of Temple.  – Photo by Rutgers Men’s Basketball / Twitter

On Friday, the Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to Temple 72-66 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase. The loss ended the Scarlet Knights (3-1, 0-0) early-season three-game winning streak.

Rutgers struggled offensively throughout the first half. The Owls (2-2, 0-0) kept the Knights out of the paint, and Rutgers' outside shots were not falling. The Knights couldn't establish any offensive flow as they committed nine turnovers in the first half and overall looked sloppy on the offensive end. 

Temple, on the other hand, played an aggressive style of defense and came out strong offensively, evidenced the team's 18-10 lead in the first 9 minutes of play. The Owls would only expand on that lead, and by the end of the first half, they led Rutgers 38-23. 

Freshman guard Derek Simpson got his first career start in the absence of senior guard Paul Mulcahy and fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell, but Simpson struggled especially in the first half. He ended the game with three assists and two turnovers. He also shot 1-for-11 from the field and 1-for-4 from the free throw line. 

The Knights played better in the second half but rarely were able to make the score close enough to take the lead. After Rutgers began to institute a full-court press, the team was able to cut Temple’s lead to 51-45 with 6:57 remaining, but the Owls were able to reassert control shortly after. Though a late three-point shot from Simpson brought the lead to only 4 points with 13 seconds remaining, Temple was never in any real danger, and the Owls went on to win 72-66.

Guard Khalif Battle came off the bench and led Temple with 24 points. Forward Jamille Reynolds also had a strong game scoring 17 points and corralling nine rebounds.

Three-point shooting and free throws were what ultimately held back the Knights from making the comeback. Rutgers shot 1-16 from behind the arc and converted only 19 of the team's 29 free throw attempts. Despite the Knights’ offense calming down in the second half and only committing four turnovers, their offense was still stagnant. The Owls had 17 assists in the game whereas Rutgers only had nine assists.

Still, junior center Clifford Omoruyi stood out in the loss. Omoruyi led the team with both 21 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season. Senior guard Cam Spencer also had a strong game for the Knights with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. He accounted for nearly half of the team’s assists.

Rutgers will look to bounce back when the program hosts Rider on Tuesday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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