Temple men’s basketball was one play away from taking down two top 25 opponents in a week’s span.
The Owls fell to #22/24 Memphis in an overtime thriller by a score of 82-79. This marked Temple’s 4th game in a 5 game streak of taking on top 25 opponents. Their only win in the streak came on February 16th against #23 SMU 71-64.
Three different Temple players recorded a 20+ point game for the first time since the 2008 season. The Owls led by Will Cummings with 24, followed by Quenton DeCosey with 23 and Dalton Pepper with 20.
Cummings and Pepper were the only players to score in the first 12 minutes of the game, until a DeCosey free throw put him on the board. The veteran pair shot an impressive combined 50 percent from the field, while the rest of the team shot 10.
In fact, Cummings shined in the first half scoring 18 of Temple’s 32 points. The Owls went into the break trailing Memphis 40-32.
Jumping ahead to the second, the Cherry and White trailed by as many as 9 before climbing back to knot the score at 67 at the 7:10 mark courtesy of a Cummings lay up.
Going down the stretch, neither team led by more than a possession setting the scene for what would be a nail-biting finish.
A Pepper 3 point play, including an inside the point jumper and the free throw following, tied the score at 74 with 1:13 in the game.
Both teams got their chances in the last minute for the win, however, neither could find the basket. For the Owls, it was a pair of missed jumpers from DeCosey and Cummings with 10 and 7 seconds remaining, respectively. For the Tigers, it was a missed J by Joe Jackson with 47 seconds left and missed trey from Austin Nichols.
Going into overtime, Memphis got on the board first after a Nichols layup. The Owls would not respond for over a minute until Pepper connected from behind the arc to give his squad a one point advantage. The only other overtime points for Temple came with 31 seconds left from a DeCosey layup to bring the cherry and white back within one, 80-79.
Michael Dixon Jr. hit a pair of free throws to put the Tigers ahead 3 with 18 seconds remaining. Temple got two chances for the win; Pepper missed a trey with 10 seconds left, then DeCosey missed his shot with 3 on the clock.
The Owls shot a mere 20 percent from the floor in the overtime period, against a 50 percent shooting Tiger squad.
Temple closes out their five game stretch against top 25 opponents as they travel to Kentucky for a rematch against reigning national champion Louisville on February 27. The last time these two teams met in the Liacouras Center on Valentine’s Day, the Cardinals ripped the Owls an 82-58 loss.
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