Written By: Drew Bishop
Photo Courtesy of: Temple Men’s Basketball
After an 11 day break from competitive basketball, the Owls faced a familiar foe and a familiar result, falling 79-68 to SMU on the road at Moody Coliseum.
This drops Temple to 0-3 in conference play, 1-3 overall.
The Owls had not faced an opponent since December 30th, 2020, when they played SMU and lost 79-71. The Mustangs, on the other hand, came off back-to-back losses to Houston and Cincinnati.
Unlike their last matchup, SMU looked hungry. The Mustangs started the game on a 9-2 run. The Owls looked to be overmatched, committing 3 turnovers in the first 5 minutes. However, North Philly sniper Brendan Barry was able to halt the SMU’s run with a three-pointer. His presence was felt by the Mustangs’ defense as he finished with 17 points, all coming in the first half. Barry’s presence will be felt by the entire NCAA if he can continue these numbers. He’s currently college basketball’s 4th best in 3P% shooting 14-25 from beyond the arc on the season.
“Brendan opens up the floor for a lot of us. He got off to a hot start and they made the adjustment in the second half. That opened things up for the rest of us to make plays.” said head coach Aaron McKie of Barry’s impact on the floor.
SMU’s defense played a key role in Temple’s reliance on Barry and the three-point game. In the first matchup, Jake Forrester’s 6 offensive rebounds allowed for more interior opportunities to benefit the Owls. Yet in the second matchup, Ethan Chargois and Feron Hunt improved their positioning against Forrester and cemented the Mustangs’ paint defense. SMU outrebounded Temple 43 to 31, with 15 coming on the offensive end.
This forced the Owls to settle for contested jumpers, as they ended the half 11-29 (37.9%) from the field. This was a marked improvement from SMU but only resulted in a 37-34 lead at halftime, mostly due to Temple’s three-point barrage (8-13). The Owls even got their final deep shot to fall, a half-court buzzer-beater by JP Moorman to end the half.
Shooting at an unsustainable rate, the Owls came into the second half looking to slow down the pace and get easy buckets inside. This initiative started with freshman Damian Dunn attacking the paint. After going a shocking 1-9 in the first half, Dunn began the second with a different mindset. Attacking the basket and heading to the free-throw line, Dunn picked up the slack on the way to being the Owls’ leading scorer. He ended with 17 points and 5 assists.
As with the last game between these two, SMU continued to go on runs to establish a large lead, only for Temple to punch back and remain in striking distance. A common thread for the Owls, despite the COVID delays to their schedule, is that they remain a team with potential that needs time to manifest.
“It’s experience. We have a ton of guys who haven’t played many minutes. It’s about learning, gaining experience, and growing into that team we want to be at some point,” said Aaron McKie.
Damian Dunn also spoke on this stating that, “everything for us is a new lesson learned. Of course, we’re looking to win, but it starts with every one of us being able to have the mindset to lock in and take steps in order to get this win.”
The narrative of the plucky Owls lasted until late in the game when Charles Smith IV hit a three-pointer to lengthen the lead to 13 with 3:48 to go. From there, Temple’s comeback fizzled out and SMU closed out the game.
A major contributor to their ability to close came from Kendric Davis. The leading scorer for Southern Methodist took charge of this game shooting 50% (7/14) from the field on his way to a game-high 22 points.
Now, the Owls will look to build on the experience gained in this game, as their next game is slated for Thursday against UCF at the Liacouras Center. Listen in on WHIP Radio for the broadcast beginning with the pregame at 11:30 A.M and tip at 12:00 noon.