Written By: Drew Bishop
Photo Courtesy of: Temple Men’s Basketball
In a game filled with positives for Owls basketball, the end result was still a loss, as Temple fell to SMU 79-71.
Temple came into the game as an eight-point underdog, only to maintain pace with the Mustangs until the final moments, when fouls distanced the two squads.
SMU had not competed with another team since they defeated ECU on December 16th, 2 weeks prior to their matchup with Temple. Add that to the Owls week-long gap since their last game, and the rust was evident on both sides.
SMU shot 2-7 from the field to start the game, while Temple shot 3-10, combining for 10 points in the first 5 minutes.
However, once the tempo picked up, so did the scoring. With 11 minutes left in the first half, the Mustangs began to make stops that allowed them to get out in transition for easy buckets. This led to an 11-2 run, putting SMU up 27-16.
Rather than sputter offensively, or give up more turnovers, the Owls rallied behind back-to-back threes from new addition, Brendan Barry. His first-half shooting allowed them to keep pace with the Mustangs, only being down 37-32 at the half.
When discussing the bright moments from this loss, Barry is at the top of the list. He had a team-high 17 points in 34 minutes off the bench, shooting 5/10 from beyond the arc.
This, coming from a player who hasn’t seen the floor in 2 years prior to joining the Owls, is a good omen for Temple’s bench scoring and perimeter shooting this season.
“The coaches and the guys have been extremely helpful in making my transition easier, which has led me to play better on the floor,” said Barry.
Another positive that allowed Temple to bridge the gap of talent was Jake Forrester’s inside presence.
Forrester, another transfer portal addition to the roster, was all over the glass, accumulating a game-high 12 rebounds, six of them being on the offensive side. His hustle defensively was a major component to how Temple was able to slow down SMU.
The main inhibitor for Forrester was foul trouble. With 10 minutes left, he picked up his 4th foul, forcing Aaron McKie to take him out of the ball game. If he can reign in his fouls, he will be a force in the paint for Temple all season.
For a game in which they gave up 79, the team played well as a defensive unit. One example of this was their ability to reign in Kendric Davis. Davis, usually the primary scoring threat for SMU, was held to two points on 1-4 shooting in the first half.
“Overall we did a pretty good job against him, everyone that guarded him was up for the challenge. We kept him quiet, but late in the game he made a few big shots which is what you expect from him,” said Aaron McKie on the defense versus Davis.
It turns out that those few big shots late in the game made the world of difference. Davis was able to summon 11 points on 5-5 shooting in the second half to help SMU pull away.
While the primary objective is always to walk away with a win, there were several improvements and positive moments for the Owls to build on.
Their next matchup won’t come until 2021, as they face the Memphis Tigers at the Liacouras Center on Saturday. You can listen in on WHIP Radio for the call at noon EST.