Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the hottest teams in the American Athletic Conference will square off at Moody Coliseum on Thursday evening, as the Temple Owls set their sights on upending the 21st-ranked SMU Mustangs.
Larry Brown's Mustangs have won three straight games and 11 of their last 12 overall to move to the 21st spot in the most recent Top-25 poll. SMU is coming off Saturday's 73-55 blasting of defending national champion Connecticut and maintains its spot atop the AAC standings at 12-2. Moody Coliseum has been a safe haven for SMU, which is 14-2 at home this year.
Fran Dunphy's Owls have won seven straight games to move to 19-7 overall. The team's 10-3 league ledger is good for sole possession of third-place in the conference standings. Temple knocked off East Carolina, 66-53 at home on Saturday to keep its win streak going. The Owls have won three consecutive road games to improve to 6-3 in that area this season.
Temple holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with SMU, but it is the Mustangs seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 60-55 victory in Philadelphia back on Jan. 14.
The Owls weren't at their best offensively against East Carolina on Valentine's Day. However, the .368 effort was just a bit better than the Pirates' .352 performance. Temple held a huge advantage in rebounding (49-260 and outscored ECU at the free-throw line, 18-7. Will Cummings led the way in the scoring column for Temple with 17 points. He was joined in double figures by Jesse Morgan and Josh Brown, who netted 14 and 10 points, respectively. Jaylen Bond dominated play on the glass, grabbing 16 rebounds, including six offensive boards.
Temple has lacked efficiency at the offensive end this season, shooting a lowly .384 from the floor and putting up a modest 65.2 ppg. The defensive effort has been much more consistent, with the Owls limiting foes to just 60.0 ppg. Scoring depth comes in the form of three of the five starters averaging double figures. Cummings headlines the trio and is tops on the team in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and assists (4.1 apg). Morgan (12.8 ppg) and Quenton DeCosey (12.7 ppg) aren't far behind in the scoring column.
SMU isn't an offensive juggernaut either, but 69.7 ppg is more than enough, with the team sporting a +10.7 scoring margin. The Mustangs are shooting a highly efficient .487 from the floor this season, while maintaining a +7.0 rebounding margin. Everything funnels through junior guard Nic Moore, who is both a potent scorer (14.4 ppg) and deft distributor (5.4 apg - second in the AAC). Yanick Moreira shoots a team-best .573 and averages 11.7 ppg to go with a team-best 6.9 rpg. Markus Kennedy nets 10.5 ppg to provide even more depth at the offensive end for SMU.
SMU jumped out to a 41-26 lead over UConn at the half and held the Huskies at bay over the final 20 minutes to secure yet another win. Moreira, Kennedy and Sterling Brown all finished with 13 points in the win. Nic Moore added 10 points to the cause, whole Moreira completed a double-double with 10 rebounds.