The undefeated dream is dead.
Devin Coleman scored 23 points and hit all of his seven threes as Temple handed No. 8 SMU their first loss of the season in impressive fashion, running the Mustangs out of snowy Philadelphia, 87-78. This is the seventh time in the last eight years that Fran Dunphy has knocked off a top ten team.
The game was supposed to be played on Saturday afternoon, but thanks to the two feet of fresh powder that Winter Storm Jonas dumped on the city this weekend, the game was bumped back to Sunday. Maybe the postponement through off SMU’s timing. Maybe they were thrown by the lack of bodies in the stands. Maybe their legs were tired from pushing their bus out of the snow. Maybe all of the above was true.
But that’s kind of beside the point, because regardless of circumstance, Temple went out and won this game. It was due to a lights-out shooting performance that SMU likely did not realize the Owls were capable. Temple entered the afternoon as the nation’s 288th-best three-point shooting team. They left having hit 14-for-29 from beyond the arc.
That’s one way to get it done.
However it happened, the bottom line is that this was a résumé win for the Owls, who have been flying under the radar this season. They’re now 5-2 in the AAC, but thanks to a less-than-stellar performance during non-conference play — they lost five times early in the season, although the “worst” loss was either at Wisconsin or to St. Joe’s — they were written off by some already.
But here we are in late January and the Owls have swept Cincinnati, won at UConn and, obviously, handed SMU their first loss of the season. They’re tracking towards the bubble come Selection Sunday, and having this win in their back pocket could end up being a difference-maker for a team that found themselves just on the wrong side of the bubble last season.
As far as SMU is concerned, the hope has to be that this doesn’t snowball for them. They’re banned from the postseason this year, meaning that they don’t really have all that much to play for. An outright AAC regular season title would be nice, but a run towards an undefeated season was their NCAA tournament this year, so to speak.
Play out the season like the tournament is still a possibility and hope that the pressure put on the NCAA for their horrid, morally wrong postseason ban — and for the athletic department’s embarrassing decision not to appeal the ban — will eventually get the decision overturned.
It’s a longshot, but sometimes a longshot’s all you got.