December 30, 2020 –
In their American home opener the Temple Owls went up against an offensive powerhouse the the SMU Mustangs who entered the game leading the conference in scoring getting over 85 points per game. Since Temple averages just over 60 the game would come down to getting offense and limiting the Mustangs on defense. The Cherry and White got a little of both.
The Owls had to keep climbing the hill against the undefeated Mustangs (6 – 0, 2 – 0), but could not get over the humps and fell 79 – 71 in a gritty contest at the Liacouras Center.
SMU held the lead for most of the game taking a 37 – 32 advantage into the locker room after 20 minutes. Temple climbed back into contention and took the lead at 47 – 46 on a J.P. Moorman II layup with 13:59 on the clock. It would be the last lead for the Cherry and White. The Mustangs answered stretching the advantage back to 9. Again, the Owls got to within 61 – 59 with 6:45 to play on a layup by De’Vondre Perry. Then a 13 – 4 run by SMU closed out the game.
“We’re a young team learning how to play with each other,” said Temple guard Brendan Barry. “We had good shots. You can’t have scoring lulls against a team like this. We’ll have to figure out not to have those lulls offensively.”
As a team the Owls shot 36.8% (25 of 68) and made but 9 of 31 from beyond the arc. Barry led the team with 17 points setting a season-high. His 5 made three-pointers were a career-mark. The graduate transfer from Dartmouth is finding his role.
“I’m still finding my rhythm and my place on this team,” said Barry. “Credit the coaches and the guys on this team for accelerating the process. It’s only going to get better.”
On the defensive side Temple did limit SMU to 6 points under their scoring average. But the Mustangs did make 51.7% (31 of 60). Coach Aaron McKie saw defensive deficiencies that contributed to the loss.
“Our biggest problem came with knowing shooter vs. driver,” McKie said. “Sometimes we rotated off the shooter and went running to the driver. Their driver was passing to the shooter who was making those shots.”
“We had too many bad closeouts. They were beating our closeouts, getting to the middle of the paint and converting off that.”
Leading Mustangs scorer Kendric Davis, who came into the game averaging 20.4 points per game, got 13 points but added 5 assists and 7 rebounds. Darius McNeill led the team with 17 points and Yor Anei added 14 points. Emmanuel Bandoumel netted 13 points.
The Owls got a career-high 13 points from freshman guard Jeremiah Williams. Damian Dunn put up 15 points. Center Jake Forrester took down a collegiate-best 12 rebounds (6 on offense and defense) and Moorman II grabbed 9 boards, best this season. Temple did have a 43 – 38 edge off the glass.
Paying attention to detail will yield better results on North Broad Street.
“If we clean up those little things, we’ll be much better,” McKie said. “We’ll limit teams from shooting high field goal percentages.”
Temple (1-2, 0-2) returns to action on January 2 hosting Memphis.
Written By: Glenn Papazian