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03/10/2013 4:20 PM EDT
Temple uses big rally to beat No. 21 VCU 84-76
TEMPLE 84, VA COMMONWEALTH 76

By DAN GELSTON
AP Basketball Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- On the way out of the Atlantic 10, Temple
looked ready to take one more trophy as a keepsake.



Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points and Jake O'Brien had 19, and the
Owls beat No. 21 VCU 84-76 on Sunday after rallying from a big
first-half deficit.



The Owls (23-8, 11-5 A-10) flipped a 16-point hole into a
17-point lead and clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference
tournament.



"We didn't panic," Wyatt said. "We just stayed under control and
tried to control the pace of the game."



Wyatt made another strong case for A-10 player of the year
honors while denying the Rams a conference title. With a win,
VCU (24-7, 12-4) would have shared the A-10 crown with Saint
Louis. VCU is the No. 2 seed.



Temple and VCU each earned first-round byes and will open play
at the Barclays Center on Friday.



The Owls won their 376th regular-season game in the Atlantic 10
dating to the 1982-83 season. They're joining the
football-playing members of the Big East.



Before they go, they have a nice parting gift in mind - winning
perhaps the deepest A-10 tourney in history.



"Hopefully, we can stick together and continue to play good
basketball," Wyatt said.



O'Brien rallied the Owls back from the big first-half hole with
clutch 3-pointers in transition 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 6 1/2 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 - their largest of the game after trailing
38-22.



Coach Fran Dunphy called O'Brien "Jake O'Buckets" after his 5
for 8 effort on 3s against the Rams.



"Coach Dunphy emphasized playing with poise in any kind of
situation," O'Brien said. "We've been in positions like that
before. I think it helps to have a veteran group, guys that have
been there before."



The Owls, with three seniors and two graduate students in the
starting lineup, earned their second win against a ranked team
this season. They beat then-No. 3 Syracuse in December.



Juvonte Reddic led the Rams with 20 points, and Treveon Graham
had 17.



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.



VCU coach Shaka Smart said he's left trying to figure out why
the Rams lost "their fire" after halftime, especially with first
place at stake. The Rams were on the brink of sharing a
championship in their first season in the A-10 after bolting the
Colonial Athletic Association.



"Nobody transitions from a smaller league to a bigger league and
wins the league in the first year," Smart said. "This is why.
You've got to win games like today. We just didn't do what it
took to win."



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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