Temple 85, Xavier 72

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 12, 2012
Ramone Moore scored 30 points, and Micheal Eric had 11 points and 16 rebounds to lead Temple to its eighth straight win, 85-72 over Xavier on Saturday night. Khalif Wyatt scored 18 points and helped the Owls (19-5, 8-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) build a 21-point lead in the first half and remain in first place in the conference. The Owls dominated from the start in a matchup between two of the perennial powers in the Atlantic 10. The Musketeers, playing for the fourth time in five games on the road, entered only a half-game behind the Owls in the conference standings. Only some garbage-time buckets made the score respectable. Tu Holloway scored 23 points for Xavier (16-9, 7-4). Mark Lyons added 15 points. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson grabbed 10 rebounds as everyone played a role for the Owls in the easy victory. Nearly 9,500 fans dressed in ''I Believe'' shirts for a ''White Out'' at the Liacouras Center. They saw the Owls emphatically state their case for being the best in the A-10. Moore was sensational with a 9-of-16 effort from the floor. He fell only two shy of matching his career high of 32 points set in December against Villanova. He proved his sizzling first half was no fluke. Moore opened the second half with a 3-pointer off a no-look pass, then dunked off a turnover and it was 52-31. Wyatt scored a bucket but came up hobbling and instantly went to the bench. He returned a short time later and made all three free throws after he was fouled. Moore did more than shoot 3s. He had a sweet reverse baseline layup in the second half. It was that kind of game for the Owls. Moore, a 40 percent 3-point shooter, helped the Owls race to a 21-point lead in the first half with a fantastic effort from long range. He made 4 of 5 3s to help Temple punish Xavier from beyond the arc. Wyatt added two 3s in the half. After Aaron Brown nailed a 3 in front of the Xavier bench for a 43-22 lead, Musketeers coach Chris Mack placed his hands on his hips and looked down. It was about over. The Owls put the game away after a 16-0 run early in the first half. Xavier ended the spurt, but Moore promptly buried a 3 on Temple's next possession to wipe out any chance of a rally. Xavier had no more than two or three decent consecutive possessions. Trailing 19-5, the Musketeers already had six turnovers. Lyons, who averaged 15.9 points, did not start and missed three of four shots in the first half. Holloway missed six of his nine shots and had a 3 blocked by T.J. DiLeo. Frontcourt starters Dezmine Wells and Kenny Frease were both scoreless in the half. The Owls shot 61 percent from the floor in the half, 64 percent from 3-point range (7 of 11) and led 47-27 at halftime. The numbers were stunning against a Xavier team that led the A-10 in field-goal percentage defense (39 percent) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30 percent). The Owls were on the cusp of entering the Top 25 this week and a win over a solid Xavier team could help push them closer to the poll. The Owls have gone 11-2 since Jan. 1, including a 78-73 win over then-No. 5 Duke.
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