SMU (20-4, 10-1 American) at Temple (13-11, 4-7 American)
WHEN: Thursday, February 9 at 8 p.m. CT
WHERE: Liacouras Center (Philadelphia, Pa.)
TV/RADIO: ESPN2/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: SMU leads 5-4
LAST MEETING: SMU won 79-65 in Dallas on Jan. 4
SMU is coming off two wins where the team beat East Carolina by 40 and Tulsa by 23. Not exactly tough matchups, but it's more about what SMU has been doing on its impressive six-game winning streak. The Mustangs come in having won 16 of its last 17 games and guard Sterling Brown is coming off one of his best games as a Mustang with 27 points in the win over Tulsa. While SMU got a big game from Brown and the starters contributed, the bench scoring was near non-existent. Ben Emelogu and Dashawn McDowell had zero points. That has to change in a tough road test in Philadelphia. SMU has been playing excellent defense though and expect this one to be a prime example of a hard-nosed, defensive struggle.
The Owls are coming off a 9-point win over USF, which isn't very impressive, but it was another step in the right direction for a team that has struggled for the most part this season. One thing you can count on those is Fran Dunphy's squad to play hard. SMU will have to match that energy level and bring it to beat the Owls and avoid losing a trap game before the showdown against Cincinnati on Sunday. Temple leads the AAC in made three-pointers per game with almost 9, but they've been making 10 or more three-pointers in six of the last nine games, something SMU has to shut down.
Owls to Watch
G Daniel Dingle: Dingle is coming off one of his better games of the season with a 22-point effort in the Owls' win over USF. He went 6-for-7 from beyond the arc against the Bulls.
G Shizz Alston, Jr.: Alston, Jr. has taken over as the Owls' leading scorer with his three 20+ point performances during the month of January. He's another hot shooter coming into tonight's game that SMU has to watch for.
Projected Temple Starters:
G Alani Moore
G Shizz Alston, Jr.
G Daniel Dingle
F Obi Enechionyia
C Ernest Aflakpui
Projected SMU Starters:
G Shake Milton
G Jarrey Foster
G Sterling Brown
F Semi Ojeleye
F Ben Moore
Matchup to Watch
Jarrey Foster vs. Daniel Dingle: Last time out against SMU, Dingle went 2-for-8 from the field and finished with five points. As the senior comes off a huge performance against lowly USF, SMU has to pay attention to him once again. Dingle can create space and hit shots. With SMU's continued high-level play on the defensive end of the floor, shutting down Dingle will again be a priority.
Keys to the Game
SMU started sloppy offensively against Tulsa last time out, but it didn't matter with the team defense that the Mustangs played. Tim Jankovich's squad jumped all over Temple at home last time out, building a 21-point lead before closing out a 9-point win. Another fast start is crucial to beating a Temple team that is facing its sixth ranked opponent this season. Playing in front of what could be a small crowd due to another snow storm similar to the one that delayed the SMU-Temple matchup last year, SMU needs to block out the weather and all of that and get off to a good start. The Temple crowd will be a well-fed one... the school is offering up an all you can eat special for $25 for those brave enough to attend. Might be best for SMU to try to put the Owls' faithful down for a halftime nap by opening up a big lead.