Temple was looking for a defensive turnaround, and the Owls found it, at least for one night, against the highest-scoring team in the American Athletic Conference.
With Shizz Alston scoring 22 points and the defense coming to life, the Owls defeated Memphis, 77-66, Wednesday at the Liacouras Center in a game between teams that were going in opposite directions.
Temple snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 11-10, 2-6 in the AAC. The Owls had lost six of their previous seven games, all in the conference.
Memphis (15-6, 5-3) had won six of seven entering the game and saw its three-game winning streak snapped. The Tigers entered the game averaging a league-best 77.9 points.
Memphis was limited to 40 percent shooting from the field and 26.3 percent from three-point range.
Alston, who had a career-high 25 points in each of his previous two games, scored 15 of his points in the second half after the teams were tied, 30-30, at intermission.
Early in the second half he broke a 32-32 tie with eight straight points, giving Temple a 40-32 lead. The Owls would never trail from that point.
"I was relatively quiet in the first half and wanted to come out and make a statement and have us go on a run," Alston said.
Alston is the Owls' leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points. In his last three games he is shooting 28 for 50 from the field (56 percent) and 14 of 31 (45.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
"We knew Shizz Alston was a very talented shooter, we wanted to keep the ball off him and didn't do a good job there," Memphis coach Tubby Smith said.
Temple forward Daniel Dingle scored 16 points while fellow senior forward Mark Williams, on his 22nd birthday, added a season-high 15 points off the bench and tied a career high with four assists.
"I told the guys all I wanted for my birthday was a win, and we got it and it is the best birthday ever," Williams said.
In addition to Williams, Temple's other bench player, freshman guard Quinton Rose, scored five points but tied season highs with eight rebounds and five assists.
Guard Jeremiah Martin led Memphis with 16 points.
Temple led, 60-46, with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left when Dingle completed a three-point play. Memphis would get no closer than seven points (68-61) the rest of the way.
Several NBA scouts were on hand to see the frontcourt matchup of Memphis' 6-9 sophomore Dedric Lawson and Temple 6-10 junior Obi Enechionyia.
The Owls used Enechionyia, Williams, Dingle, and Ernest Aflakpui at times on Lawson, who was limited to 13 points and five rebounds and is now averaging 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.
"We did a good job making him put the ball on the ground, making him make plays for others," said Dingle, who guarded Lawson for most of the second half.
Lawson limped off with 1:08 left.
Enechionyia, saddled with foul trouble, had seven points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
Temple visits Houston on Saturday, and the Owls are looking for consecutive wins for the first time since beating NJIT and Yale on Dec. 17 and 22.