The Temple University men's basketball team will welcome a friend tonight at the Liacouras Center. …
And when you hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up. Three days after a fourth-straight double-digit loss, the Owls answered the call in a stunning 71-64 victory over 23rd-ranked SMU on Sunday afternoon.
Temple is just 7-17 overall and 2-10 in the American Athletic Conference, while the Mustangs fell to 20-6, 9-4. SMU easily handled the Owls, 75-52, on Feb. 6.
"I don't know if coach (Fran Dunphy) is a psychic, but he said we were going to win this game," said senior Dalton Pepper, who led the way with 24 points. "Three years I've been here, I never heard him say that.
"They didn't have a lot of second-chance opportunities. We went to Dallas, they out-played us, they out-hustled us, it was the other way around today and it showed."
Dunphy said his suggestion after the blowout loss in Dallas was as much a belief the Owls were due as foreshadowing a specific event.
"At the time I just felt we were going to be OK at some point, and I threw that our to our guys," admitted Dunphy. "It was a lucky call. I'm a big believer in our turn, and I think today was our turn to come together. Everything will be OK, it might not come when you want it come, but we'll be OK."
Temple won despite playing without starting center Anthony Lee, but freshman Mark Williams delivered 10 points and Devontae Watson contributed eight points and eight boards.
"It made me take more pride in (my game), that I was going to be on the floor and had to step up and play the best I could to level it out," said Watson. "I'm getting more comfortable, I have a more important role on the team."
Will Cummings scored 13 points, dished out seven assists and earned credit from Dunphy for managing the game effectively in a first half the Owls left leading 34-30. Quenton DeCosey also scored 13 points.
"I don't think you can minimize Mark's two threes in the first half, and in the second half, he threw a bullet to Devontae. .. And Devontae caught it," said Dunphy. "That's what I mean by our turn."
Markus Kennedy scored 18 points, and tipped in two for the Owls when he was going for a rebound. Nic Moore scored 15 but was foul trouble limited his minutes.
SMU jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but the Owls bounced back. The Mustangs also came out strong in the second half, but Temple answered the 13-5 run. Watson's dunk gave the Owls a 49-48 lead with over 11 minutes to play and unlike a plethora of games this season didn't let this one slip away.
"It feels good to finally pull one through, we just played real well as a team," said Pepper. "A few balls bounce our way we can beat anybody."
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