Temple games versus Southern Methodist University have a pattern. The Owls hang around and go toe-to-toe with the Mustangs until an SMU run creates separation.
Just like in the first meeting two weeks ago, that theme held true Monday at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. The Owls got within one in the second half and were down five with 9 minutes, 40 seconds remaining. Then SMU went on a 10-0 run and defeated Temple, 79-68, in an American Athletic Conference game.
“Those guys started to make shots and my guys ... their eyes got big,” Temple head coach Aaron McKie said. “Teams are going to make runs on you. You have to be able to make runs on those guys.”
Temple (1-3, 0-3 AAC) answered during most of the game when SMU threatened to make it a blowout. The Mustangs jumped out on a 9-2 run and led by 12 midway through the first half. That lead was trimmed to three at the half after Temple’s Brendan Barry (17 points) caught fire.
Damian Dunn (17 points) cut the lead to one at the outset of the second half. The Mustangs (7-2, 3-2 AAC) responded with a 10-2 run. Dunn’s aggressiveness netted nine points off 11 free-throw attempts. He made it a 61-56 game at the 9:40 mark. Then the Owls went scoreless for more than three minutes during the Mustangs’ 10-0 run.
“Sometimes you just got to mix-and-match a little bit and throw in some different pieces to generate some type of flow or chemistry on the offensive end,” McKie said.
The Owls shot 39% and held SMU to 43% shooting, four percentage points below their average.
Kendric Davis led SMU with 20 points and eight assists. Davis attempted nine shots and finished with 13 points in the first meeting on Dec. 30, a 79-71 Temple loss.
“Any offensive possession they have, he’s going to touch the ball,” McKie said. “We tried to limit him as much as possible. He’s an all-league player.”
The Owls have found themselves a sniper in Barry. Any questions about the Dartmouth transfer’s shooting ability in the AAC have been emphatically answered. Barry made five threes in the first meeting against SMU and matched that in the first half on Monday.
The Mustangs held a double-digit lead before Barry started launching triples with no hesitation. After the first 12 minutes of play, he had knocked down more threes (3) than the rest of the team had field goals (2).
“Brendan opens up the floor for all of us,” Dunn said. “They made an adjustment in the second half to try and limit his shots from behind the arc. It opened up spaces and creases for everyone else to be able to get in the paint and make plays.”
This was the second time Temple has returned from a COVID-19 pause, which started Dec. 31. Dunn called the stoppages “frustrating,” but it’s a challenge Temple is dealing with. Constant pauses can make a team susceptible to injuries. Point guard Jeremiah Williams was seen cramping and had to be removed. He played a season-low 23 minutes.
“We have to continue to play and make sure we do our best to prepare these guys,” McKie said. “This is our reality right now.”