As the Temple men's basketball team prepares to make a highly anticipated trip to No. 6 Kansas on…
But the point total might not have been the most important number. That could have been 38 – the number of minutes the sometimes foul-prone center played in a game which included a combined 46 fouls and 70 foul shots.
"It was a physical game," admitted Lee. "But I was more mindful that my team needed me. Credit to my teammates and coaches for telling me how to play defense with my hands up, and I got two great blocks.
"The Duke game, I was in early foul trouble, and my dad even talked to me about it. I had to watch my fouls and still be aggressive at the same time."
Lee played only 17 minutes against the Blue Devils and the Owls were blown out, 90-67. He was held to 24 minutes in Temple's other loss this season, to Canisius last Wednesday, one game after he sat out with a respiratory infection.
Overall on the season, Lee is averaging 23.4 minutes per game. Senior Jake O'Brien has often been the offensive spark replacing the more defensive-minded Lee, but with the sophomore playing so well last Saturday, both players shared the floor and made an impact.
Lee's offensive presence allowed the Owls to present a more balanced attack as they had leaned a little heavily on the three-pointer early in the season.
"They would kick it to me inside, and we were able to play inside-out," said Lee. "It was good to see. That's how we play our game. We can play half-court and push the ball."
Lee admitted the infection slowed him down last week, but the emotion of playing the country's No. 3 team in Madison Square Garden as well as his improving health allowed him to have the type of game he did.
Lee shot 5-of-10 from the field, 11-of-14 from the line and grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and dished out two assists against a zone that is usually difficult for post players to score against. A player leading the Owls with 30 fouls committed his average of three, but spread them out enough to stay on the floor.
"He took the challenge tremendously," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "He made one reverse layup, I'm not sure how he made the shot. You're not going to be able to finish a lot of baskets against Syracuse, because they are so long and so bothersome. And how about his foul shooting? Going 11-for-14 saved us."
Lee's 11.5 points per game are third on the team, while he is first in steals (21), and second in blocks (10) and rebounding average (6.8). His minutes per game are a distant fourth behind Scootie Randall, Rahllir Hollis-Jefferson and Khalif Wyatt, who are all averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
The numbers don't lie. The Owls are a better team when Lee can stay on the floor.
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