In practice the next day, Fran Dunphy did not let his team forget about its 27-point loss to Houston Jan. 2.
To start 2016, Dunphy’s squad suffered its worst loss of the season following the team’s 77-70 win against Cincinnati, the then-No. 22 team in the AP Top 25 Poll.
“We watched the film, and he got at us pretty good,” senior guard Devin Coleman said. “It was a tough game, but there was a lot for us to learn from. We went in and put the work in. We work a little harder and focus a little more, so things like that don’t happen.”
The loss to Houston dropped the Owls to 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference and was the second time the Owls lost at the Liacouras Center. In 19 games at the Liacouras Center last season, Temple lost twice.
“We watched a lot of film that next day,” Dunphy said. “We looked at every bounce, every pass, every defensive assignment … It was just one of those games. Everything they did was great.”
Following Saturday’s 78-60 victory against East Carolina, the Owls are 3-1 in The American and 8-6 overall. The team sits behind Southern Methodist and Houston, which are both undefeated in conference play.
“I think we are in a pretty good position,” senior guard Quenton DeCosey said. “We came off the great win against UConn with a home win against ECU. I think we have to keep the positive energy and keep it going moving forward.”
Through 14 games in 2015-16, the Owls have faced five ranked teams. In the team’s first three games against Top 25 opponents, the Owls were 0-3, losing by single digits in two of the three games.
In the team’s last two games against ranked opponents, the Owls are 2-0, with both victories coming away from the Liacouras Center.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Coleman said. “But I think we showed with the couple wins we have in conference that if we come into the game with the right mindset and play the right way, we can be a pretty good team. We have to work on the consistency of our team.”
In the Owls’ eight wins, opponents have shot better than 40 percent from the field five times. The Owls also forced double-digit turnovers in six of their eight victories.
“When we watch film, they always say we have stretches where we struggle to score,” Coleman said. “But we also have stretches where we struggle to stop the other team … when we are able to put together a full game of defense, then we give ourselves a better chance at a victory.”
Dunphy said defense is essential to his team’s success.
“It’s the most important thing that we do,” Dunphy said. “We have to defend and keep teams below 40 percent shooting. … It’s the key to what every team does.”
Dunphy also praised Coleman for accepting a new role over the last two games.
Following the home loss to Houston, Dunphy removed Coleman from the starting lineup, so the senior guard could try coming into the game off the bench.
In the last two games, Coleman has scored 31 total points on 48 percent shooting. The Owls are 3-0 the last three times Coleman reached double-digit points.
Dunphy compared Coleman’s ability to Vinnie Johnson, who was runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in the 1986-87 season after averaging 15.7 points per game for the Detroit Pistons.
“He gives you a little bit of a spark,” Dunphy said. “He is an instant-offense kind of guy.”
Michael Guise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Michael_Guise.