The Temple Owls topped the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, 89-80, this past weekend but it meant much more than just beating the eighth ranked team in the country. With an up-and-down start to the season, this win over Larry Brown’s formerly undefeated squad served as a huge step forward for the Owls in terms of consistency and confidence.
Consistency and confidence practically sums up the game for Temple, especially for senior guard Devin Coleman. Coleman scored a career high 23 points, shooting 7-for-7 from three and 8-for-8 from the field overall in just 25 minutes of play.
Despite the otherworldly offensive performance by the Philadelphia native, he downplayed his hot shooting and made sure it was known that his main priority was on the defensive end.
“If I make a shot, my next focus is to get back and complete my defensive assignment,” Coleman clarified.
Following the game, Coleman calmly said that he felt “nothing really” special about his hot shooting, implying that is was just another game.
Although it’s commendable for Coleman to deemphasize his career performance, it’s hard not to feel captivated by the perfect shooting display he put on, especially in a time where offense has been hard to come by for the Owls.
Prior to Sunday’s game against SMU, the Owls had averaged just 40-percent shooting from the field on the year, while in the two games before SMU, preceding their win against Big 5 rival La Salle, Temple shot under 40-percent as a team.
Against SMU? Temple ended the game shooting 46.6-percent overall, 48.3-percent from three and 70-percent from the free throw line.
And despite Devin Coleman stealing the show, nobody can discount the team’s offensive performance as a whole.
Eight Owls in total were able to put points on the board, including 14 points from Daniel Dingle and 19 from senior leading scorer, Quenton DeCosey.
After the game, DeCosey commented on how the game showcased to a national audience that Temple has the ability to hang with any team in the country once again.
“[This is] the third ranked team we’ve beaten,” DeCosey said. “It shows people that we can compete with anybody.”
SMU came into the game ranked as the eighth best team in the country, and with the victory, it marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons that Temple has beaten a top-ten opponent. Many may see this game as a signature win for the Owls as they can use it as a confidence booster in an attempt to start consistently winning against teams throughout the rest of their schedule, but for the team, the culmination of their recent success came after their last loss against Memphis.
“I think the turning point was after the tough loss against Memphis,” DeCosey said. “We came back and got two great wins and just built momentum coming into this game. We were ready from the start.”
This marked the second straight game that Temple shot over 46-percent and the first time this season that Temple has won three straight games.
In a year that has been puzzling in terms of consistency, it seems as though the Owls are finally beginning to find solidity in their play. If the Owls keep it up, they may see themselves back in the NCAA tournament after missing out on the big dance for the last two years.
“We lost three times to [SMU] last year, and that probably kept us out of the tournament,” DeCosey recalled. “It definitely motivated us to come in and seal the victory. It does a lot for our resume, they were ranked top-eight.”
Though ‘bubble’ talks have been looming, Temple still has a tough task ahead of them if they want to truly jump back into the tournament conversation. With big games against the AAC’s second-placed team, Tulsa, a nationally respected program in UConn, and currently, #6 Villanova, the Owls certainly have a chance to prove themselves to the committee. At the same time though, the tough schedule can sabotage Temple’s shot at the tourney if they don’t come away with victories down the stretch.
Their next test will be on the road at East Carolina against the Pirates on Wednesday, January 27th. Temple must win if they want to sustain a presence in the minds of the committee, and fresh off a win over SMU, the Owls have to take advantage of the momentum that they have built up through the past three games.
Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
At noon on Sunday, Temple will have a chance to get back into the NCAA Tournament discussion as they host the undefeated #8 SMU Mustangs.
For Temple, this has revenge game written all over it. The Owls lost to SMU three times last season, twice in the regular season and once in the AAC Tournament. Had Temple managed to hold on to their second half lead in just one of those games, it is likely that they would have made the big dance.
This time around, Sunday’s game will be the only one between the teams this season, as the regular season does not have SMU hosting the Owls. The team from Texas is also banned from any postseason play due to academic fraud, so they will not meet up in Orlando come the middle of March.
Fortunately for Temple, they’re the host of this pivotal game. Beating a top ten opponent is always huge for any team and after Temple’s season of inconsistency, they need a win like this.
Beating one the NCAA’s top teams certainly won’t be easy though and SMU is the only remaining undefeated team in the nation with wins over teams like Stanford, Michigan, Colorado, and Cincinnati.
However, Temple has a history of upsetting top ten teams. Dating back to 2008 they have defeated Tennessee, Villanova, Georgetown, Duke, Syracuse, and Kansas. Even in the Owls’ down year in 2014, they defeated SMU when they were ranked #23. It was a loss that SMU would look back on, as they just missed being in the NCAA Tournament.
So, how does Temple pull out an upset this time around?
Firstly, they need to stay out of foul trouble. Temple has been better at that recently with Enechionyia starting games on the bench, but foul trouble hurt the Owls in all three games against SMU last season. Jaylen Bond and Enechionyia had to sit late in the games while Temple would lose their second half leads.
Temple has to additionally continue to play solid defense. SMU leads the conference with 80 points per game. The Owls need to keep SMU guard, Nic Moore, and forward, Markus Kennedy, at bay. Both of them hurt Temple last year, especially Kennedy, who dominated in the rebound category in their final outing as he finished 9 boards.
As for Temple’s offense, they need to take smart shots and move the ball a little bit more. Quenton DeCosey, Temple’s leading scorer, should find a rhythm early and keep it going. He has been much more consistent of late and they will need him to continue, as he has had two 20 point games in his past five outings. Devin Coleman also needs to continue being a big contributor off the bench and consistently hit shots. Quite frankly, it seems like all he does now is hit timely threes, which is what coach Fran Dunphy needs out of him.
However, this victory for Temple is imperative. They have already beaten top 25 teams in Cincinnati and UConn, but beating a team like SMU can take the sting away from the losses to Memphis and Houston. It’s a shame that the snowstorm hit hard this weekend causing the game to be played at noon Sunday because the Owls will need all of the support they can get from the home crowd. Hopefully, fans find a way to get to the Liacouras Center Sunday morning for Temple’s matchup with one of the nation’s top teams.
Photo: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
There is no better game to attend than a Big 5 game in the Palestra. The crowd is packed. The sound is unforgettable. The band is loud. It is one of the greatest collegiate athletic atmospheres in America.
On this upcoming Wednesday, January 20th, the Palestra will host back-to-back Big Five matchups. La Salle and Temple will clash in the first game at 7 pm, while Penn and Saint Joseph’s will follow at 9 pm.
Here is our preview to the first of these matchups, La Salle vs. Temple:
Fran Dunphy and the Owls (9-7) are entering this game on the back of a 2-point victory over AAC conference foe Cincinnati and they are poised to carry over that momentum against an undermanned Explorers team.
La Salle (5-10) has struggled so far this season, partly due to a lack of depth (only six scholarship players currently available), but have won two big games against Towson and Dayton. Temple will have the upperhand in this one, but if La Salle can continue to effectively run their low-tempo offense, then they can make a game of it.
What to expect:
Look for both teams to play slow, mostly out of their half court sets. Coach Dunphy’s teams always play in the half court at a methodical pace, while La Salle has had recent success with their new offensive style. A much more patient offense has worked for them and they will need to run it effectively if they want to compete against a surging Temple team, who can get impatient at times.
Key Matchup: Quenton DeCosey vs. Jordan Price
Quenton DeCosey will most likely be matched up against La Salle’s leading scorer, Jordan Price. Price has scored in double figures in all but one of his games this season and has been the focal point for the offense, averaging nearly 22 points per game. On the contrary, Price will have to guard DeCosey who is Temple’s leading scorer and is shooting a career high from three at about 41%. This battle will specifically decide their team's fate, as both players are the stars and key players on their respective offenses.
X-Factors: Amar Stukes and Daniel Dingle
Two players that have struggled mightily at times. Two players that have sent their coaches scratching their heads. Two players that need to step up for their respective teams to win. Amar Stukes is coming into his own as of late, as the Philly native is averaging 7.6 points and 4.6 assists in his last five contests. In two out of La Salle’s five wins, Stukes has scored in double figures and if he can find a way to reach that mark again, the Explorers may have a chance. On the other side, forward Daniel Dingle will look to recover after a mere 13 points over his last five games. However, when he has scored more than 5 points, the team is 3-1. If he can come in and have more of a consistent offensive impact, it will prove to be a huge boost off of the bench for the team.
What Temple needs to do to win: Hit their threes
Despite only shooting 31% from three on the season, the team has shot an average of 23 threes per game. If they want to continue shooting, they need to start hitting them. This has been demonstrated in their two wins against ranked teams, where they shot above 38% from three. Guys like Devin Coleman and Obi Enechionyia need to provide that touch off of the bench. In games where Coleman shoots above 45% from three, the team is 4-1. When Enechionyia shoots higher than 45% from three, the team is additionally 4-2. If Temple wants to not only beat La Salle, but make some noise in their conference, they will need to begin hitting their threes more consistently.
What La Salle needs to do to win: Control the pace of play and play through their star
As of late, the Explorers have played slow and run down the shot clock. As a result, they’ve been able to use much of their energy on the defensive end. It translated into a recent win for them, against a nationally recognized Dayton team. La Salle ran basic offensive sets for good looks, which also subsequently helped to limit turnovers. The team also needs to make sure they play through their star, Jordan Price. For the most part, the Explorers are successful in getting Price the ball in positions to score, but this will be imperative against a stingy Temple defense.
Prediction: 65-50, Temple
This game will probably be close for much of the contest, as Temple has consistently played down to competition. Expect both teams to come out of the gates slow, but for Temple to pull away as the game wanes on. Temple’s talent and added depth (compared to La Salle) should eventually outmuscle the Explorers. Although Temple will probably win by more, their lead will most likely hover around 10 points for much of the game.
-Benjamin Simon and William Derry
For much of the first half of the season, sophomore Obi Enechionyia and senior Devin Coleman were regulars in the starting lineup. But with Coleman’s recent shooting struggles and Enechionyia’s foul trouble, Dunphy decided to mix it up a little on the road against UConn last week.
Junior Daniel Dingle and freshman Levan Shawn Alston Jr. took Enechionyia and Coleman’s place in their last matchup against the University of Connecticut. For their sake, it didn’t really work out. Both Dingle and Alston shot 0 for 3 from the field and Enechionyia had two fouls early on his way to a two point, two rebound night. Despite the three point lead at the end of the first half, Dunphy even admitted before he went into the locker room that he wasn’t so sure that the change in the lineup actually paid off.
It did however pay off for Devin Coleman, as he shot 50% from the field, scoring 14 points. It gave a big boost off the bench in the Owls’ upset win over the Huskies.
Dunphy would stick with Coleman and Enechionyia on the bench the next game against East Carolina. This time though, freshman Trey Lowe and junior Mark Williams took their spots in the starting lineup. Lowe missed all three of his shots while Williams managed only four points, but Coleman and Enechionyia combined for 27 points off the bench.
Against ECU, Coleman had a very similar game to the one he had against UConn. He shot 6 of 13 from the field for 17 points. Enechionyia also had a much better game shooting 3 of 8 for 10 points all while never getting into serious foul trouble. Before the game, he only had 19 points total in the previous four games.
Since Dunphy’s lineup change, the Owls are 2-0. No, they haven’t shot lights out (though they did shoot 50% against ECU), but it is crucial to have a spark coming off of the bench. Coleman has provided much of that spark and if Enechionyia can come back to form off of the bench, Temple could greatly benefit from the lineup switch.
It isn’t known whether or not Dunphy will keep these guys on the bench permanently. But time will tell if having a starting lineup without a guy taller than 6-foot-7 will work out in the long run. However, it’s probably for the best that Dunphy keeps this going. The starting lineup of Enechionyia-Coleman-Bond-Decosey-Brown rarely had a good shooting day and there wasn’t a strong bench to back them up. Coleman and Enechionyia on the bench has already been a drastic improvement for the Owls.
The team will look to continue this winning trend tonight at Memphis.
Photo: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America
HARTFORD, Conn. - Josh Brown had already exceeded his eight point season average by scoring nine points in the first half at the XL Center. Despite the above average start for the Newark, New Jersey native, his second half wasn’t so hot in terms of scoring, and consequently, the UConn Huskies were able to keep pace with the Temple Owls. The contest’s outcome came down to the last second.
Almost exactly one year after he missed three consecutive free throws during last season’s overtime contest in Hartford that could have won the Huskies the game over the Owls, UConn’s Daniel Hamilton tied the game by hitting two clutch free throws in a row. With 29 seconds left in regulation, the Temple Owls and UConn Huskies were tied at 53. Although Temple still had a timeout left to call, Josh Brown brought the ball up the court and it seemed as though he wanted to play the game straight up without stopping the clock. Nonetheless, the eventual expected timeout was called by Brown but not after 15 seconds had ticked off the clock and 14 seconds were left in the game.
After the game however, it was learned that Brown preferred not to call the timeout.
“Before the timeout I just wanted to take it,” Brown said with a smile on his face. “I tried to tell coach but he wanted to call a timeout to settle us down.”
Perhaps he didn’t want to call the timeout because he knew the play call would be for the Owls leading senior scorer, Quenton DeCosey, but in the end, Brown was the one who made the play.
“The play was really for Quenton,” head coach Fran Dunphy clarified. “He had a terrific game for us. He has earned that right, Quenton DeCosey, to help us win games.”
Out of the timeout, Brown set up the play at the top of the key but with time running out, the ball was still in the junior point guard’s hands.
“I saw an opening and tried to make a play, which I did, and I’m glad I made it,” Brown said.
With six seconds left, the lengthy guard drove into the lane, performed a crafty spin move around the free throw line and made a floater to give Temple a 55-53 lead with two seconds left on the clock. UConn’s last second desperation heave from halfcourt clanked off the backboard and the Owls came away with their second victory over a ranked team this season
“Going to my right I knew he would try to beat me to that spot, so I spun off of him,” Brown said. “I got a couple inches on him and shot over him.”
Though Brown isn’t Temple’s premier scorer, this isn’t the first time he has hit a game winning shot. Last year, in another close conference game that came down to the last possession, Brown hit a last second midrange bank shot to give the Owls a one-point lead over the Memphis Tigers that eventually won the game. Temple had timeouts to call in the closing seconds of that contest, but elected not to call them, which proved to be beneficial. Brown was able to set his feet and nail the jump shot calmly as his defender was late in transition, which may be why Brown wanted to not call the timeout against UConn, because he prefers playing in continuous action.
“He just figured out a way to get that last shot to go. He was real poised on the shot and as soon as it left his hands I thought that we had a real good chance of it going in,” Dunphy said. “His shot last year at Memphis really helped us a great deal and I’m hoping that this has the same effect this year.”
With Temple now at 7-6 overall and 2-1 in conference play, they will look to carry the momentum of the wins over two ranked teams this past week into their game against East Carolina on Saturday, January 9th.
Photo: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports