Following a blowout loss to Houston last week, the Owls looked to bounce back against another tough AAC opponent. The SMU Mustangs came into Wednesday’s game 5-0 on the season and 1-0 in conference play.
The Owls started G Damian Dunn, the redshirt freshman who shined in the season opener vs NJIT. Joining him in the backcourt was true freshman Jeremiah Williams. On Wednesday, Williams had a season high in points, (13) steals, (2) and FT made with 12. The starting forwards were SR J.P. Moorman II, SR De’Vondre Perry, & JR Jake Forrester who had a season high 12 rebounds.
The game started with a quick 6-0 spot for the Owls, then they conceded a 13-3 run to the Mustangs, despite SMU starting the contest shooting 2-7. At one point in the first half, there was a 4 minute scoring drought by both teams. The defensive standoff would eventually end as the aforementioned Forrester gave the Owls a late half spark with 6 points and a block. At the half, Brendan Barry led the Owls in points with 9, as Temple trailed 37-32. Barry would finish with 17 points, tying with Darius McNeill of SMU to lead all players.
Brendan Barry spoke with the media after the game. When asked about his performance, Barry reflected on his extended recovery from injury :
“My last game was March of 2019, for me I’m still trying to find my rhythm and my place on this team. Credit to the guys on the team and the coaches for accelerating that process. It’s only going to get better from here.”
Barry is a transferring graduate student, playing in his undergraduate days at Dartmouth.
The Owls came out of the half aggressive, fouling SMU 10 times in the second half, although at one point, SMU was shooting just 6-14 on free throws. It looked like the Owls would take advantage, taking a 47-46 lead, but SMU would score 8 unanswered points, and didn’t look back the rest of the way. The Owls would fall 79-71, dropping their record to 1-2, and to 0-2 in conference play. The Owls finished with a 36.8% shooting percentage.
Although the Owls committed 10 fouls, they also used their hustle to draw 11 fouls from SMU. Head Coach Aaron McKie spoke to his team’s aggressive play in the 2nd half:
“[at the half] We talked about attack….just be aggressive, attack. It’s about how you establish yourself, you wanna establish yourself as a team that can get to the free throw line.”
The Owls were scheduled to play Jan.2 vs Memphis, but that game has been postponed, along with the January 6th matchup @ Tulane. The AAC announced that a Temple player has tested positive for COVID-19, and will conduct contract tracing on other players and student-athletes.