Revenge is a dish best served cold. While this adage might be cliche, it perfectly sums up how SMU fans felt after the Mustangs’ 79-65 victory over Temple on Wednesday night.
SMU had not played the Owls since Temple brought the Mustangs’ perfect start to a shocking end last season. SMU travelled to Philadelphia with a 18-0 record, but after a blizzard delayed the game and the Owls’ Devin Coleman shot 7-for-7 from three-point range, the No. 8 Mustangs’ hopes of a perfect season were no more.
Now it was time to return the favor. Temple, coming off losses in its first two American Athletic Conference games, drops to three games back in the standings following Wednesday’s loss to SMU. Looking to defend their regular season conference title, SMU may have dealt the Owls a serious blow.
After Temple opened the game on a 8-2 run, SMU stormed back, outscoring the Owls 38-14 for the rest of the half on 45 percent shooting from the field. By halftime, SMU led Temple in points in the paint, points off of turnovers, points on the fast break, and 2nd chance points.
“I thought we played fantastic the first half,” SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said in the postgame press conference. “The hardest situation to play in a college basketball game in my opinion is a big halftime lead.”
Temple did begin to heat up after the break, cutting a 19 point SMU lead down to just 11 in the first three and a half minutes of the second half. The Owls would end up outscoring the Mustangs 43-39 in the final 20 minutes.
“Look who we’re playing, this is Temple,” Jankovich said. “They won our league last year. And a talented team that beat West Virginia and Florida State. They started playing like it. I think it’s a great win for us.”
Temple’s closing of the lead was made possible by capitalizing on SMU’s mistakes. The Owls stole the ball nine times and ended up finishing with more points off of turnovers and on the fast break than the Mustangs. Temple guard Quinton Rose finished the game with five steals, three of which came in the final four minutes.
“I think if anything, we got a little lackadaisical,” Shake Milton said postgame regarding the second half. “It’s really no excuse, we should have came out with more fire.”
“We were throwing around, not looking where we were passing,” Ben Moore said postgame. “It was just bad on us.”
But there was more good than bad for SMU, especially considering Temple owns the AAC’s two best wins. A 14 point win over a conference rival is nothing for the Mustangs to stick their nose up at.
Four out of SMU’s five starters finished in double figures, with forward Semi Ojeleye leading the way with 19 points. Ojeleye finished a rebound shy of a double-double in his 15th double-digit scoring performance of the season.
Guard Shake Milton finished with a career high 18 points. He also finished with seven rebounds and five assists. Jarrey Foster also came close to a double-double, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds. Sterling Brown finished with eight points and four rebounds after fouling out with 5:37 to go.
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But it was senior forward Ben Moore who made SMU history Wednesday night, scoring his 1000th point as a Mustang late in the second half. Moore finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“I’m so happy about that,” Jankovich said. “I love Ben Moore. He’s been wonderful since day one that he got here. He’s a special young man and 1000 points is a great honor.”
SMU’s win over Temple improves the Mustangs to 13-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play. It also extends SMU’s winning streak to nine games.
When asked about how the winning streak affects the team, Milton responded:
“I didn’t even know we had one to be honest. It doesn’t really matter.”
“Don’t tell us,” Ben Moore added.