Owls lose close game to Mustangs

Temple men’s basketball lost by 8 points in their second conference game against SMU on Dec. 30.

Graduate student guard Brendan Barry dribbles the ball down the court during the Owls' game against Southern Methodist University at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 30. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s basketball is still in the search for their first win against conference opponents after losing to undefeated Southern Methodist University. Yet despite today’s loss, the Owls had positive takeaways in their third game of the 2020-21 season. 

The Owls (1-2, 0-2 The American Athletic Conference) lost 79-71 to the Mustangs (6-0, 2-0 The American) in a game in which 3-point shooting was crucial. 

Temple’s inability to contain SMU’s offense in the first half gave the Mustangs a five-point lead heading into the second half, but Temple still kept the game close throughout.

The Owls gained a short-lived, one point lead 13 minutes into the second half, but Temple started to fall behind in the last four minutes, and the team simply couldn’t make enough shots to keep up with SMU.  

SMU made five 3-pointers against the Owls in the first half. Defensively, the Owls struggled to contain the Mustangs’ shooters beyond the arc and the Mustangs took advantage by shooting 40 percent of 3-pointers. Temple’s offense only shot 29 percent from 3-point range against SMU. 

“We took some rush shots, and this could have been a night where we attacked the paint, but we settled for too many threes against us,” head coach Aaron McKie said.

SMU junior guard Darius McNeill led the team with 17 points and made three out of five 3-point attempts. SMU shot for 51.7 percent from the field, while Temple shot for 36.8 percent. The Owls couldn’t keep up with the Mustangs shooting by the end of the game.

Temple is still adjusting to a new group of players with just three games of experience playing together. Graduate student guard Brendan Barry had 17 points off the bench and was 5-for-10 on 3-point attempts. He was able to consistently find open space to make shots and draw SMU’s defense away from the basket. 

“I’m still finding my voice on this team, but the group has been accelerating that process and it’s only going to get better from here,” Barry said.  

Barry’s rhythm worked well with junior forward Jake Forrester, who led the team with 12 rebounds. Forrester grabbed six offensive rebounds creating extra opportunities for Temple’s offense to score. 

Temple was able to draw 11 fouls in the second half against SMU. Redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn made 4-of-5 free throw attempts, and the Owls made 12-out-18 free throws total. 

SMU led for most of the game, but Temple never fell behind by more than 11 points. As Temple prepares for their next game, they’ll want to avoid foul trouble and be more aggressive on offense.

The Owls will take on Memphis (6-4, 2-1 The American) this Saturday on the road at 12:00 p.m. for their third conference game of the season.  

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