Written By Tom Hanslin @tomhanslin
DALLAS– Second half foul trouble and offensive blunders cost Temple the game Thursday night at Moody Coliseum, as the 21st ranked Southern Methodist Mustangs clawed their way back to win 67-58, snapping the Owls win streak at seven straight games.
Temple opened up the evening on a profound shooting surge, as the Owls began with a quick 9-4 lead while shooting six of eleven from the field in the first eight minutes of the half. Southern Methodist immediately brought the defensive pressure with a two-man trap defense, but the Owls maintained their composure, and handled the potent presence of the Mustangs’ star big men. Freshman forward Obi Enechionyia returned to action after missing three consecutive games with a nagging left ankle injury, and he fortunately showed aggressiveness and agility on the boards, contributing two rebounds and six points. The Owls provided a much needed consistency on the offensive end, finishing with a 46% field goal percentage in the first half. Southern Methodist held their own on both ends of the floor, but struggled to maintain possession while distributing the ball effectively. A key component to the Owls’ first half lead was the Mustangs’ inconsistency at the charity stripe, as star forwards Ben Moore and Markus Kennedy combined for one of seven from the free throw line. The Owls took advantage of the Southern Methodist’ mistakes, which resulted in a 33-25 lead for Temple at recess.
By the start of the second half, Southern Methodist flipped the script. The Owls and Mustangs swapped roles in the half’s opening minutes, as Temple surrendered 8 turnovers that lead to a rapid back and forth of buckets being exchanged. The Owls’ costly mistakes began with poor decision making by DeVonte Watson, who committed his fourth personal foul only six minutes in to the half. Watson’s absence forced bench forwards Daniel Dingle and Devin Coleman onto the floor, weakening the size and strength of the Owls’ front court. Southern Methodist turned on the jets and took advantage of their favored match ups, tallying a profound 17-4 run with 8:25 remaining in regulation, giving them their first lead of the night. After a quick 7-0 run by the Mustangs with three minutes left, the Owls managed to knot the game at 52, but Mustangs’ forward Cannen Cunningham broke the tie with a layup, and Southern Methodist held the lead for the final two minutes to solidify their fourth consecutive win, sweeping Temple in conference play.
Temple now stands at a record of 19-8 overall, 10-4 in American Athletic Conference play. Their next opponent will be in Dallas as they face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Sunday evening.
GAME NOTES: Will Cummings was the Owls’ leading scorer, finishing with 14 points along with 7 assists and steals. The Owls shot 40.7% from the field, but a staggering 28.6% from behind the arc. Jaylen Bond was the defensive star, posting 11 total rebounds and a block. DeVonte Watson was a non-factor for the second consecutive game, as he contributed only one bucket on a measly three attempts. Temple did not record an assist until the 4:30 mark in the second half. The Owls also allowed 15 total turnovers, the second-most committed since Nov. 21 loss to Duke in Brooklyn. SMU outscored the Owls 42-25 in the 2nd half. The Mustangs leading scorer was guard Nic Moore, finishing 6-12 from the field with 18 points and 4 assists. SMU outnumbered Temple in rebounds 31-30, assists 14-12, steals 10-8, and blocked shots 9-4. SMU’s Moore, Kennedy, Cunningham and Moreira had two blocks apiece for the Mustangs. SMU was 4 of 7 on 3-pointers in the second half after going 1 for 4 before halftime. SMU also finished 20-33 (60.6%) from the free throw line, their lowest performance on the season. It was the Owls’ first loss since falling by 31 to Cincinnati on Jan. 17. Temple also gave up 67 points, the most surrendered since the Cincinnati loss one month ago. SMU improves to 22-5 overall, standing in 1st place in AAC play (13-2). SMU’s final 3 games: @MEM, @UCONN, vs TLSA. Temple’s final 4: @TLSA, vs HOU, @ECU, vs UCONN.