PHILADELPHIA -- To most teams, it would be the end of one chapter of the season and the start of the next. Unlike college football, in which a loss can devastate a season, there’s always life in college basketball.
Unless you’re SMU. Penalized by the NCAA for academic misconduct, the Mustangs won’t play in any postseason, neither their own American Athletic Conference tournament nor the NCAA tournament, and so their whole season was built with one goal in mind: to win all of the games they were eligible to play.
That dream died in North Philadelphia, a day late but every bit just as painful, as Temple upset SMU 89-78 to hand the last undefeated team its first loss.
Here’s how it happened:
Fittingly, the Owls won from the outside: Why fittingly? Because the weather outside was why this game was being played on Sunday instead of Saturday. The Owls, who hit only one of their first nine shots, and were shooting 31 percent from 3 entering Sunday, sunk a season-high 14 from long range and connected on 48 percent of their 3-point attempts. Though Temple was helpless to stop SMU in the paint, the 3-points-for-2 exchange added up to the right sort of math for Temple.
Coleman to the rescue: Without second-leading scorer and top rebounder Jaylen Bond, sidelined with a bad back, the Owls were going to need some help from the bench. They got it in the form of Devin Coleman. The senior connected on a career-high 23 points and seven 3-pointers, almost daring the Mustangs to let him shoot. The biggest connect of the day? Maybe at the 7:40 mark: With the Owls up eight but the Mustangs still refusing to go away, Coleman took the ball on the left wing and with the shot clock counting down, faked a shot, stared down a defender and ... swish.
Coleman finished a perfect 7-of-7, matching the Temple record set by Pepe Sanchez in 1997.
Holding down Nic Moore: The SMU guard finished with 10 points but connected on only three field goals. Josh Brown stuck to the America’s reigning player of the year like glue, not allowing Moore to get a shot off. The guard opted to become a terrific facilitator instead, dishing out seven assists, but without his outside game, the Mustangs couldn’t keep up.
The storm killed the storm: Temple was expecting a big crowd for this game, back when it was scheduled for Saturday night. Though this weekend's snowstorm had cleared out by the noon tip, it still left a mess that kept fans home. Unplowed streets, no regional rail service and limited subways made trekking to North Philadelphia a chore, and consequently the court storm was more of a nice gathering at midcourt.