After a 1-1 start to its delayed season, Temple University men’s basketball (1-1, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) will face Southern Methodist University (5-0, 1-0 The American), its toughest opponent to date, on Wednesday.
The Mustangs have handily outplayed their competition so far this season, winning four out of their five games by a margin of at least 15 points.
The Mustangs are led by junior guard Kendric Davis, who tops the team in minutes, points, assists, 3-pointers and steals per game. Davis blossomed into one of the nation’s better scorers this season, averaging 20.4 points per game with a true shooting percentage of .630.
Davis sparks the Mustangs’ offense, which averages 85.2 points per game, the 28th-highest of Division I basketball teams. Containing him is a tall task for anyone, but it will be especially difficult for an Owls team lacking an established guard.
Redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn has handled more guard duties than any other member of the Owls so far this season and the team will rely upon him heavily to mitigate Davis’ scoring. At 6-foot-5-inches, he has a clear height advantage in the matchup, giving him the potential to slow the 5-foot-11-inch Davis down.
While Dunn has struggled shooting from the field, he already exhibited a noteworthy tendency to draw fouls on the offensive end in the Owls first two games.
Dunn got to the line frequently and made 17-of-21 attempts so far this season. Scoring at the free throw line could prove to be part of the Owls’ solution to keep pace with Davis and the Mustangs.
Last week’s 76-50 loss to Houston was a poor showing from most of the Owls, but there was a silver lining. Senior forward J.P. Moorman II, one of the team’s most trusted veterans, had his best showing of the early season, scoring a team-high 12 points and making two 3-pointers on four tries. Temple may need Moorman II to continue his impressive offense to upset SMU.
The Owls and Mustangs will tip off at 2 p.m. at the Liacouras Center tomorrow.