When: Sunday, January 24 at 11 a.m. CT
Where: Liacouras Center (Philadelphia, PA)
TV/Radio: ESPN2/KAAM 770 AM
Last Meeting: SMU won 67-58
The Line: SMU -6.5
The SMU Mustangs edged out Houston in what was a tight, emotional battle until the end. Senior guard Nic Moore delivered in the clutch finishing with 23 points and a number of big shots down the stretch. Markus Kennedy also played a big hand in the Mustangs’ win with his best game of the season thanks to 16 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman phenom Shake Milton had one of his worst games (1-7 from the field), but once again, SMU came together in the second half, thanks to a halftime speech by Moore, to secure their 18th straight win to start the season. The fact that SMU was able to get up to Temple a full day early is a plus as the team can have a pretty relaxed Sunday while the storm rolls through and then get up and play right away.
The Temple Owls lost a very valuable piece in Will Cummings from last year’s 26-win team, and they haven’t gotten off to the start some expected this season, but they’re still a dangerous team. The Owls’ 7 losses can be deceptive since three of them are to top 25 teams during non-conference play. Quenton DeCosey and Josh Brown provide a solid one-two punch in the backcourt. DeCosey, the Owls’ leading scorer at 15.6 points a game, shoots a formidable 41 percent from behind the arc and brings a senior leadership to the court that Moore does for SMU. Devin Coleman is another guard that provides a solid offensive punch off of the bench, and Jaylen Bond is a big that rebounds well and can score around the rim. Obi Enechionyia is another big man to keep an eye on for the Owls because of his ability to score on the block and from behind the arc. The Owls could also try to use 6-foot-10 freshman Earnest Aflakpui if they decide to go big against SMU.
Three Players to Watch
G Quenton DeCosey: DeCosey is the leader on and off the court for Temple. He can shoot the ball well, but his size also allows him to get into the lane and draw fouls. If Temple wants to beat the Mustangs, they’ll have to have a big night from DeCosey.
F Jaylen Bond: Averaging 9.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game for the Owls, Bond is an athletic forward who grinds it out for Temple. The big man can run the floor well, and can consistently make shots in and around the paint. A big game for Bond could mean trouble for SMU.
G Josh Brown: Brown can’t shoot the three-pointer like DeCosey can, but he can still pile on the points because of his ability to get into the paint. Brown is also a good rebounder and can hold his own on the defensive end.
Matchup to Watch
Markus Kennedy vs. Jaylen Bond: Senior Markus Kennedy has always looked to be at the top of his game when he visits his home town Philadelphia, so Saturday should be no different. Especially coming off of his best game of the season, the Villanova transfer will likely look to have a bigger offensive presence. But he’ll have to deal with the Owls’ senior big man in Jaylen Bond. The Texas transfer hasn’t had big offensive nights when he’s faced the Mustangs and Kennedy in the past, but the 6-foot-8, 240-pound athletic forward can be a matchup problem, especially if the Mustangs get into foul trouble.
Keys To the Game
While the Mustangs were able to escape with the win against Houston, it took some fighting. SMU got outrebounded (37-32) and was out-hustled most of the night, which is something they can’t let happen against this veteran Temple team. They even gave up 23 offensive rebounds, which is something they haven’t done all year. If the Mustangs do fall behind again on the road, they need to make sure they don’t fall in love with the deep ball if they start missing. They were just 3-13 against Houston, and if they fall behind in Philadelphia, they could turn to the three-pointer. But SMU just needs to do what they have done so well all year long, which is make the extra pass. The Mustangs will also go up against two more big men in Bond and Enechionyia that could be trouble for Kennedy and Tolbert, so staying out of foul trouble—like it always is with a short bench—is once again vital.