NOTE: This story has been corrected.
In keeping with the spirit of the season, it was the kind of preholiday gift that figures to keep on giving.
Perhaps even right up until Selection Sunday.
Saturday at the Liacouras Center, on ESPN, Temple (5-3) hung an 88-72 thumping on No. 8 Tennessee (6-2).
The last time the Owls had beaten a ranked team was last January, when they beat No. 20 Xavier, 78-59.
The last time the Owls had beaten a ranked opponent from out of the conference was Jan. 28, 2006, 91-85 at home against No. 18 Maryland. And the last time they'd knocked off a nonconference Top 10 club was Dec. 28, 2002, 71-64 over visiting 10th-ranked Indiana.
The last time Fran Dunphy had beaten a Top 10 team was Nov. 23, 1998, when Penn outlasted No. 7 Temple at the Palestra in overtime, 73-70. Three days after the Owls had beaten No. 5 Michigan State on North Broad Street, 60-59, on two Pepe Sanchez free throws at the end. Owl assistant Matt Langel played for those Quakers.
So much for the history lesson.
Dionte Christmas had two points in Temple's last game. And two free throws in the closing 30 minutes of the one before that. This time he had five at halftime, at which point the Owls led by nine. He blew up after that, finishing with 35, two off his career best. He went 7-for-14 from the arc, including five straight (to go with an old-school three-point play) after the Volunteers had closed to within four midway through the second half.
Did we mention there were a bunch of pro scouts in the house?
"When you're hot, you're hot," Christmas said. "Any player's going to have tough nights. My teammates did a good job of calling my number, when it was time. It was my night. Once I got going, nothing mattered.
"I've done it before, against top-caliber teams. But I definitely feel that this was special."
Shockingly, he's the A-10's co-Player of the Week. For the ninth time, which is the most by an Owl and ties him for third with Massachusetts' Marcus Camby (1994-96) on the conference list.
Saturday the Owls travel to Kansas, which just lost at home by one to UMass.
They also got a career-high 19 points, seven rebounds, five blocks and three assists (no turnovers) out of Sergio Olmos in 39 minutes. As well as 16 points and 10 boards from Ryan Brooks.
"We played about as good as we can play, up and down the line," Dunphy said. "Everything just came together. Dionte was unconscious. He can do that. He got on fire a little bit. It was just ridiculous.
"This was a good win for us. But we don't have much time to enjoy it. Whether this was a watershed moment for us will be determined later on. It just felt like something special was going on. We understood what the task was at hand."
Unlike most 401Ks, the meaning shouldn't get devalued any time soon. *