There weren’t many Temple basketball fans that circled a February 6th matchup against the SMU Mustangs (18-5, 7-3) as a blowout loss for the Owls. But that was exactly what happened.
The Owls suffered their second straight loss and their 10th in the last 11 games to fall to (6-15, 1-8) on the season.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 14-6 lead six minutes into the game and never looked back from there. They led the entire game and outplayed Temple in every category. SMU’s bench outscored Temple’s 30-9.
The most frustrating thing for Temple fans was the Owls’ inability to make a shot all night. They shot barely over 30 percent from the field, and just over 20 percent from behind the arc. SMU’s third-ranked shooting defense in the NCAA really took Temple off its game and kept them from making any types of big runs.
Dalton Pepper led all scoring with 12, but Pepper, Will Cummings, and Anthony Lee (who had another double double) were the only Temple players to score above six points. SMU had five players reach double figures with Shawn Williams and Markus Kennedy both tallying 14 points each.
SMU has played well beyond expectations this season. The Mustangs, who were projected to finish in the bottom half of the American Athletic Conference, are now in a third place tie with Memphis who are both 7-3 in conference play. They are still undefeated at home, and host their biggest game of the season when American leading Cincinnati (22-2, 10-0) comes to town.
As for Temple, the nightmare season continues. This was the Owls’ second worst loss of the season but it felt like the most deflating. They looked like they never had a chance to win this game. I don’t know if it is the short bench or if it is a lack of heart and hustle, but this is not what Temple basketball looks like.
Temple has had two losing seasons since 1982 and since then the largest win differential was -8. This team is on their way to the worst season in the history of the storied program.
SMU shot 54% from the field Thursday night and that was a key part to the victory. Opponent shot percentage has been a huge issue for Temple year round. They rank dead last in the American in points per game allowed and in field goal percentage defense.
Rebounding has been a huge issue as well. The Owls were outrebounded 42-36 by the Mustangs, another category where Temple sits in the basement of the American. SMU is top in the American in rebounding defense. This was just a mismatch for Temple all around.
It’s good news and bad news for the Owls. The good news is there are only nine games left in this awful season, the bad news in Temple needs to go 9-0 to reach .500 and avoid their third sub .500 season in 30 years.
If Temple wants to finish this season on a high note, they better start now. They stay in Texas for a matchup against Houston before they play five straight games against teams that are in the top four of the American.