OwlScoop - Jourdain's career-high 23 points lead Temple to 69-64 win at Tulsa
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Jourdain's career-high 23 points lead Temple to 69-64 win at Tulsa

Nick Jourdain’s mother had one wish for her birthday.

“She was telling me,” Jourdain said of his mother, Lisa Turcic, “that all she wants for her birthday is for me to break my career high (in scoring) again.”

Jourdain did just that, leading four Temple players in double figures with a career-high 23 points to guide the Owls to a 69-64 win Wednesday night at Tulsa, a place where they had never won in seven previous attempts. Temple improved to 10-6 overall with the win, their third in a row, and 3-2 in American Athletic Conference play on a night when it got Aaron McKie back on the sideline after the third-year head coach had missed the team’s two previous games because he was on the program’s COVID-19 protocol list.

Road games at Tulsa had been a house of horrors for Temple, dating back to the Owls’ 67-60 loss on Dec. 14, 1996 at the Convention Center. Temple had lost its last six games against the Golden Hurricane at the Reynolds Center by an average of 17.1 points per game before Jourdain and his teammates snapped that streak Wednesday night.

The Owls, who have a week off before they play again next Wednesday at home against Wichita State, led by 31-28 at halftime but fell behind by 47-42 with 12 minutes, 25 seconds to go before using a 13-0 run to take control of the game and hold on at the end.

Jourdain scored four points during that run on a dunk and a layup, and freshman forward Zach Hicks scored five of his 11 points in that span. Damian Dunn, who overcame a 4 of 14 shooting night by going 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, scored four of his 17 points during the run.

Temple associate head coach Monte’ Ross, who led the Owls’ bench during the last two games with McKie out, recruited Jourdain out of New Jersey’s Covenant College Prep. He was seen at the time as an athletic, still-developing player with plenty of upside, and he averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13 games last season as a true freshman.

Jourdain scored 12 points in a loss to then-No. 12 Houston back on Jan. 2 and had what was then a career-high 16 against ECU last Saturday. McKie said his 6-foot-8 second-year forward is “emerging."

“He’s been working on his game and getting better,” McKie said, “and it takes time. It’s a progression to get to this point. He’s basically a freshman. He had a few games under his belt last year, played late in the season for us, not a lot of minutes. But there’s a lot of growing pains with these young guys. They’re working and he’s getting better with each game, and as I saw him just now walking out, I said, ‘Demand more of yourself.’ Get greedy and want more, because we feel like he’s got more in the tank.”

In addition to Jourdain, fellow freshman Jahlil White is also starting to turn the corner. The Wildwood Catholic High School product contributed 11 points and a career-best 10 rebounds for his first career double-double while going 4 of 6 from the free-throw line on a night when Temple went 19 of 23 as a team from the charity stripe.

“It’s growth,” McKie said of White’s performance. “As I said with all of these guys, I think he’s far ahead of what we expected, but this is what these guys want. They want to be college basketball players. They want to be winners. It’s part of it, and he’s been really working hard on his game, working hard on his free throws.”

Putbacks: Temple won on a night when it committed a season-high 19 turnovers but helped overcome that with a season-best 11 steals and got 13 points off turnovers. … Forward Jake Forrester returned to play for the first time in four games but logged just 10 minutes off the bench. Forrester and fellow forward Sage Tolbert started the season in the Owls’ starting lineup but logged a combined 14 minutes Wednesday night. … Jeriah Horne led three Tulsa players in double figures with 15 points. LaDavius Draine added 12 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance from 3-point range.