Temple upsets No. 23 SMU, 71-64

Posted: February 18, 2014

Devontae Watson battled for position on the right side of the basket as Dalton Pepper's three-point shot misfired, bounced off the rim, and went into the air.

It was midway through the second half of Sunday afternoon's 71-64 Temple win, and at that point the Owls were just keeping their heads above water against No. 23 Southern Methodist.

Watson leaped into the air after Pepper's miss, but SMU's Markus Kennedy was just a bit quicker. Maybe a bit too quick - Kennedy tipped the rebound into Temple's basket to give the Owls a one-point lead.

Ever gracious, Watson pointed two fingers toward Kennedy and thanked him. The Philadelphia native and transfer from Villanova shook his head.

"He scored for us, I had to congratulate him," said Watson, who had a game-high eight rebounds and added eight points.

The tip of good fortune - which SMU coach Larry Brown called "interesting" - turned into momentum for the Owls down the stretch. They never trailed again and led by as many as nine points.

Pepper led Temple on the offensive end with 24 points, and hit a pair of free throws with 1 minute, 49 seconds left to give Temple a six-point advantage. It was the senior guard's best game in more than a month, and it secured the Owls (7-17, 2-10 American Athletic Conference) their second win of 2014.

"Today was the way that we play," Watson said. "All of the other losses that we've had are not really how we play."

Pepper and the Owls' other guards combined to limit SMU star point guard Nic Moore to 15 points. The sophomore entered Sunday averaging 18.5 points per game and was slowed by Temple's help defense. He fell into foul trouble in the second half. Temple outrebounded the Mustangs, 38-25, and allowed just four offensive rebounds.

Mark Williams, a freshman forward, started in place of Anthony Lee (minor left knee injury) and hit a pair of first-half threes that kept Temple close.

The win came less than 48 hours after Friday night's 24-point blowout loss to visiting Louisville.

Pepper said coach Fran Dunphy gathered the team afterward and told them they would topple Southern Methodist (20-6, 9-4). The coach, according to Pepper, said he was a believer in "our time," and said that Sunday would be "our time."

It was a lucky call, Dunphy said. But it proved to be the right one, thanks partly to a lucky tip.


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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