PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/16/2014 – The Temple Owls welcomed Southern Methodist University Mustangs Coach Larry Brown back to Philadelphia. SMU came into the game ranked #23 in the nation. This day was not about a reunion, it was about basketball. In the end Temple broke their four game losing streak and bounced back from the defeat against Louisville by upsetting the Mustangs 71 – 64 at the Liacouris Center. Senior guard Dalton Pepper led Temple scoring a game-high 24 points. For Temple it was a matter of keeping focus and a belief that good things would happen according to Coach Fran Dunphy.
“I’m a big believer in our turn,” Dunphy said. “I think today was our turn to come together. I think more than anything else was to pound into their heads that everything’s going to be okay. It may not come when you want it to come, but in the end everything would be okay. Today was just our turn.”
“We got out-coached,” said Brown who had a different view. “Fran did a great job in creating match-up problems for us. They controlled the tempo. They made all the effort plays, things you hope your team does. We haven’t learned that when you don’t bring it against a quality opponent, you’re going to suffer the consequence.”
Larry Brown is a proponent of playing the ‘right way.’ Defining the right way is subjective. However, it can be said that SMU played with the right stuff early as the Mustangs made 6 of their first 8 shots, all good shots. SMU took a 13 – 4 lead at the 14:45 mark.
There is also something to be said about playing the right way when a team fights back from that start. That is what Temple did taking their first lead at 25 – 24 with 4:21 to play in the first half. The lead would stretch on 34 – 30 at halftime.
“They hit a lot of shots in the beginning,” Pepper said. “Our defense picked up a little bit. We held them to 30 points in the first half. That was good.”
The Owls fell behind again in the second half. An 8 – 1 run midway through the second half gave the lead back to the Cherry and White at 55 – 49 on a jumper by Pepper with 9:49 to play. SMU charged back, but could not get the lead. The game would be decided over the last four minutes when the Mustangs missed seven consecutive free throws. Temple made eight of their last ten free throws to keep control. For the game the Owls went 21 of 25 from the free throw line while the Mustangs made 14 of 26 free throws.
Temple out-rebounded SMU, a team that leads the AAC in the Rebound Margin statistic. Mustang forward Markus Kennedy, a transfer from Villanova, was second in the conference in rebounding. Kennedy grabbed 5 rebounds to go along with his team-high 18 points. The Owls took down 38 for the game, SMU had 25. On the offensive end the Owls held a 12 – 4 advantage. This gave the Cherry and White a 15 – 2 edge in 2nd Chance points. Sophomore forward Devontae Watson had 8 rebounds, 3 offensive to lead Temple.
“It didn’t give them too many second chances which was a goal that we had,” said Watson about the impact of offensive rebounding. “We didn’t want to give up too many second chances because they really capitalize on that. I was thinking that I was just going to get as many as I can and help the team.”
Junior point Will Cummings scored 13 points for Temple while handing out 7 assists and taking down 5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey also scored 13 points. Freshman forward Mark Williams also posted double figures with 10 points. Pepper made 8 of 19 field goal attempts. The Owls had 15 assists on their 21 field goals.
Temple improves to 7 – 17 on the season and got their second conference win against ten losses. But the Owls get the upset. It was just a matter of believing good things would come along. They did.
Written By: Glenn Papazian