PHILADELPHIA (AP) — SMU coach Larry Brown watched with a mixture of disbelief and amazement as Temple students rushed the court when the final buzzer sounded.
“I almost got in it,” Brown said. “I never thought that would ever happen.”
That’s what happens when a team comes to town with a perfect record and leave with its first loss.
Eighth-ranked SMU became the last Division I team to lose this season when Devin Coleman scored a career-high 23 points and led Temple to an 89-80 win Sunday.
The Mustangs (18-1, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) were off to the best start in team history.
“We’ve got to start again,” Brown said.
SMU is ineligible for postseason play this year because of NCAA infractions.
“Our motivation is to try to get better and make it a special year for the seniors,” the SMU coach said. “And this loss is not going to take that away.”
Coleman made all eight of his field goal attempts and all seven of his 3-point shots coming off the bench to thwart SMU’s bid at perfection. Quenton DeCosey added 19 for the Owls (11-7, 5-2) in their highest-scoring game of the season.
The crowd at the Liacouras Center was smaller than usual after the game was pushed back a day because of the winter storm that blanketed the East Coast.
But that didn’t stop the fans from making their voices heard as Temple stretched its lead to 19 in the second half and for students to rush the court when the game ended.
“I think this does a lot for our (NCAA tournament) resume,” DeCosey said. “It shows people we can beat anybody.”
Sterling Brown scored 19 points to lead SMU. Jordan Tolbert added 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting and Ben Moore had 13 for the Mustangs, who shot just 3 for 14 from 3-point range.
After SMU pulled within five midway through the second half, Coleman made two straight 3s to cap an 11-0 spurt and help Temple pull away.
Coleman matched the school record for long-distance accuracy, tying the 7-for-7 performance on 3s by Pepe Sanchez on Feb. 16, 1997 vs. Rhode Island.
“He was playing ‘Horse,'” Brown said. “Once he got going, he was unstoppable.”
Overall, the Owls shot 14 for 29 on 3-pointers, the most they’ve hit all season. Daniel Dingle added 14 points for Temple, which has won five of its last six games.
SMU: Brown returned to Philly for a third time with the Mustangs. He coached the Philadelphia 76ers from 1997-2003 with current Temple assistant Aaron McKie as one of his top players. . The game also marked a homecoming for senior Markus Kennedy, a Philly native who played for Villanova before transferring to SMU in 2012. He finished with six points. . The Mustangs shot 15 for 23 from the free throw line.
Temple: Jaylen Bond, the Owls’ top rebounder, missed the game with a lower back injury. . This was Temple’s sixth game against a ranked opponent this season. They have won their last three — all AAC matchups. . Temple has defeated a Top 10 team in seven of its last eight seasons.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST?
When asked if it’s become almost impossible for a team to finish an entire season unbeaten, Brown responded, “I would think so.”
But then he quickly added, “I’ll take my chances with some teams.”
The last team to go undefeated was the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers although others, including Kentucky last season, had a perfect record heading into the NCAA tournament.
“It’s been such a crazy year in terms of the quality of teams getting beat,” the SMU coach said. “And I think that’s a good thing.”
NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY
Coleman had no great insights as to why he enjoyed such a remarkable shooting performance, saying that he didn’t feel any differently during warmups or once the game began.
“I went through my regular routine,” he said. “I just got hot.”
However it happened, Temple head coach Fran Dunphy was grateful.
“If you’re going to win a game like this against this good of a basketball team, you’ve got to get those special performances,” Dunphy said. “And certainly his was special.”
SMU: Hosts Memphis on Saturday.
Temple: Visits East Carolina on Wednesday.
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