After waiting out a near-perfect storm Saturday (Jonas, which dumped the fifth most snow on Philadelphia in history) the Temple Owls men’s basketball team unleashed its own perfect storm on undefeated SMU Sunday afternoon.
Both literally and figuratively.
The Owls gave Larry Brown and the Mustangs their first loss of the season in a convincing 89-80 win that, fittingly, concluded with the Temple faithful storming the court.
“These guys really hung together they did agreat job,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said after the game on ESPN2.”They decided, without Jaylen Bond [out with an injury]our leader, the next guy up would be great for us.”
That next guy was Devin Coleman. And he was as perfect as it gets.
The senior guard came off the bench and made everything he looked at. He was 7-for-7 from long-distance and 8-for-8 overall for 23 points to lead the Owls.
“I was just putting it up,” Coleman said after the game.”If I thought I had room to put a shot up I did,and they went in.”
Temple build a sizable lead early in the game, and led by as many as 19 before the Mustangs scored 10 unanswered points to make it a game again as the second half ticked away.
But the Owls were able to play tough defense and maintain distance from SMU, which is banned from postseason play due to sanctions (despite their 18-1 record).
“We’ve had ourmoments but I thought in the second half we stepped up at times,” Dunphy said.”They cut it to four but these guys stepped up and made shots at a critical time.”
The victory will surely be Temple’s signature win come March when the team is vying for an NCAA Tournament berth after being snubbed in 2015. If they can play solid basketball for the rest of the winter, many will see the upset over the No. 8 Mustangs as a turning point.
“It was great win forus,” Coleman said.”We are kind of in that middle area where the season can go up or down and today helped us. It was a step in the right direction.”
It was Temple’s seventh win over a top-10 team in eight seasons and their third win over a ranked, conference foe this year, lifting them to 5-2 in the AAC and 11-7 overall.
The Owls are back in action when they travel to East Carolina Wednesday night.
SMU’s loss means there are no Division I unbeatens left in college hoops.