PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points and Jake O’Brien had 19, and Temple beat No. 21 VCU 84-76 on Sunday after rallying from a 16-point deficit.
The Owls (23-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10) clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and earned a first-round bye. Temple and VCU will each open play at the Barclays Center on Friday.
The Rams (24-7, 12-4) lost their chance to share the A-10 title with Saint Louis. VCU is the No. 2 seed.
Juvonte Reddic led the Rams with 20 points and Treveon Graham had 17.
The Owls played their final regular-season game in the Atlantic 10. They’re joining the football-playing members of the Big East.
O’Brien rallied the Owls back from the big first-half hole with clutch 3-pointers that propelled them toward their seventh straight win. O’Brien tied the game at 46-46 on a 3, then gave the Owls the lead for good with another 3 to go up 51-48 with less than 15 minutes left.
The Owls took off from there, thrilling a sellout crowd of 10,206 with tough buckets inside, while O’Brien led the surge from outside. With Philadelphia 76ers general manager Tony DiLeo watching from press row, son T.J. DiLeo stretched the lead with two straight layups.
Temple built some needed breathing room in the span of about 10 seconds. Scootie Randall hit a 3-pointer, the Owls stole the inbound pass, and Wyatt hit a 3 off the quick turnover for a 68-56 lead with about 6½ minutes remaining. Will Cummings later fell on his backside after a 3 to help keep the Owls comfortably on top.
O’Brien, a transfer from Boston University, nailed one more big 3 for a 78-61 lead. With that basket, the Owls had turned a 16-hole into a 17-point lead.
The Owls earned their second win against a ranked team this season. They beat then-No. 3 Syracuse in December.
The Rams had “Havoc” printed on the back of their warmup shirts, and that’s exactly what they created for the first 14 minutes. Relying on a full-court press and flawless 3-point shooting, VCU went on an early 18-0 run.
Rob Brandenberg’s three-point play put VCU up 36-20 with just under 6 minutes left in the first half. The Rams made all six 3-point attempts in the half and shot 53 percent overall but couldn’t put away the Owls. O’Brien and Randall each hit 3s to help the Owls slice to deficit to 41-36 at halftime.
Temple honored former coach John Chaney and the 1987-88 team that hit No. 1 in the poll and advanced to the NCAA tournament regional final. Chaney received a standing ovation as he walked down the red carpet and hugged each one of his former players.
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