Owls return to play against SMU after two-week pause

Temple men’s basketball goes up against SMU today in a game where three-point shooting will likely be a decisive factor.

Temple University men's basketball plays their first game in two weeks on Jan. 11. Above, redshirt-sophomore guard Tai Strickland dribbles the ball down the court during the Owls' game against the New Jersey Institute of Technology at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 19. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After a two week pause in activities due to a positive COVID-19 case within its program, Temple University men’s basketball (1-2, 0-2 The American Athletic Conference) will play Southern Methodist University (6-2, 2-2 The American) today for the second time this season.

Due to the pause, Temple only had three days of practice to prepare for the Mustangs. The game was supposed to take place on Jan. 10, but it was postponed to give Temple more time to prepare, The Temple News reported

When the Owls played the Mustangs on Dec. 30, 2020, they lost 79-71, as the Owls struggled to shoot 3-pointers and stop the SMU’s offense from shooting beyond the arc.

As Temple heads into their third conference game of the season, the group will have to work on making more 3-point attempts and containing the Mustangs’ shooting.  

Temple is shooting 30.8 percent from the 3-point line and are allowing teams to shoot 35.9 percent from three so far this season. 

SMU has played two conference games since competing with the Owls. The Mustangs went up against Houston and Cincinnati, but they lost both games. 

The Mustangs’ weakness in both games was their lack of efficient free-throw shooting. SMU is shooting 71.7 percent from the free-throw line this season, while Temple is shooting 72.6 percent from the free-throw line.  

The last time the Owls played the Mustangs, both teams struggled to shoot from the free-throw line. Temple shot at a 66.7 free throw percentage, whereas SMU shot 50 percent.  

SMU junior guard Kendric Davis, who averages 19 points per game, also leads the team in steals and assists. But the last time SMU played Temple, junior guard Darius McNeill seemed to be the biggest threat for the Owls, recording 17 points in the game. 

As for the Owls, graduate student guard Brendan Barry, who had 17 points last game against the Mustangs, should be a large contributor against SMU’s defense. Freshman guard Jeremiah Williams, who averages 3.3 assists per game, will be critical to creating scoring opportunities for the Owls.

Head coach Aaron McKie felt the group rushed their shots on offense and settled for too many threes from the Mustangs offense the last time they played SMU, he said.

If the Owls can attack the paint and keep up with SMU’s offense on scoring, Temple should be able to redeem themselves from their last matchup with the Mustangs and potentially come out with a win. 

The Owls and Mustangs will tip off at 3 p.m. today in Dallas, Texas. 

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