It's a small sample against admittedly the bottom rung of the American Athletic Conference, but Temple is hoping its latest mini-streak can jump-start this up-and-down basketball season.

The Owls won two games in a row for the first time in a month and half Sunday with a 83-74 victory over reeling South Florida in an AAC matinee at the Liacouras Center.

Daniel Dingle tied his career high with 22 points, Ernest Aflakpui had a career-best 14 points, and Shizz Alston also scored 14 and tied a career high with seven assists for the Owls.

Temple, which is now 5-0 on Super Bowl Sunday, made 12 of 23 shots from beyond the arc with Dingle (6 for 7) leading the way.

The modest two-game winning streak began Tuesday with a 79-71 victory at Tulane. Never mind that Tulane and USF are a combined 1-21 in the AAC. The last time there were two straight Temple W's was Dec. 17 and 22 against NJIT and Yale.

Temple (13-11, 4-7 AAC) needs wins and the Owls won't complain about the competition. On Thursday, the Owls will host Southern Methodist (20-4, 10-1) and that will be a true gauge of their progress.

With seven AAC games left, Temple needs to build some momentum, not only for the AAC tournament but also to put itself in postseason conversations.

"I really believe in this team," Dingle said. "I am confident when it is all said and done, we will get an opportunity to be in the [NCAA] tournament."

It's nice to have that confidence, but Temple would likely have to at least get to the AAC final if not win it for that to happen. At this point, there is plenty of work to do just to get into NIT consideration.

If Aflakpui can have more performances like Sunday it would bode well for Temple. He had seven rebounds in 24 minutes. Entering the game shooting 44 percent from the foul line, he made 6 of 8 free throws.

"It is about confidence and I think I took one step today and I have to keep building on it," Aflakpui said.

As tough as things have been for Temple, perspective is gained when looking at the other bench.

USF (6-16, 0-11) fired coach Orlando Antigua on Jan. 3. Interim coach Murry Bartow is now 0-9 with a team that seems to play hard but not very well.

The Bulls did show some fight. Trailing by as many as 27 points in the second half, they cut the lead four times to nine points, the last on Geno Thorpe's layup with three seconds left. Thorpe ended with a team-high 25 points.

USF shot 22 for 32 (66.7 percent) from the field in the second half.

"We didn't do a very good job on the defensive end in the second half and they did a great job," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

Temple jumped to a 46-23 halftime lead, its biggest first-half margin this season. Previously the best was a 45-25 lead over West Virginia when the Owls stunned the Mountaineers, 81-77.

That was on Nov. 25 and a lot has changed since then.

At the time, Temple was in the middle of a season-best five-game winning streak. Now the Owls are scrambling to move up in a conference where only Cincinnati and SMU seem like NCAA locks. Temple is in eighth place in the 11-team league.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard