Temple 71, Southern Methodist 64

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More

PHILADELPHIA — To beat Southern Methodist, all Temple had to do was outrebound the top rebounding team in the American Athletic Conference. And they had to do so without the conference’s top rebounder.

Easier done than said.

But it was Temple that looked like the dominant rebounding team on Sunday afternoon at the Liacouras Center, crushing SMU on the glass en route to a 71-64 victory over the No. 23 Mustangs.

SMU came into play as the best team in the AAC and 18th in the country in rebounding margin, pulling in an average of 6.6 rebounds per game more than its opponents. Temple, on the other hand, was the worst in the AAC, giving up 3.3 rebounds per game to opponents.

To make matters worse, starting center Anthony Lee’s status was up in the air entering play, as the junior forward injured his knee in the Owls’ last game. Lee dressed but did not play, with freshman Mark Williams earning his seventh career start instead.

Williams filled in admirably, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds, part of a solid team effort by the Owls to keep the Mustangs off the glass. Sophomore center Devontae Watson led the team with eight rebounds to go along with eight points as Temple finished with a 38-25 advantage in the rebounding column.

The Mustangs certainly helped the Owls out down the stretch, missing seven free throws in a row at one point with under four minutes to play. Temple, on the other hand, took advantage of its opportunities at the stripe, going 21 of 25 (84.0 percent) to SMU’s 14 of 26 (53.8 percent).

Temple (7-17, 2-10 AAC) beat a ranked team for the first time in six attempts this season, though there had been a few close calls. The Owls hung tough with then-No. 24 Memphis on Jan. 11 and in a pair of games against No. 19 Cincinnati in the same month, though it looked less impressive in losses to No. 9 Villanova (90-74) and No. 13 Louisville (82-58) in recent weeks.

Early on it looked like SMU (20-6, 9-4) could run away, like it did in a 23-point victory over Temple on its home court just 10 days prior. An 11-2 start saw the Mustangs get to the bucket at will, but the Owls responded.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams, who entered the game just five of 24 (16.0 percent) from beyond the arc, helped the Owls take their first lead of the game, 25-24, at the 4:21 mark of the first half. They went into the half with a 34-30 advantage.

NOTES: Temple is the only team in Division I with four players averaging 14.0 points per game or more. … Southern Methodist entered the AP rankings last week for the first time since the 1984-85 season, and picked up its first win as a ranked team since that season by beating Rutgers on Friday. … The last time SMU coach Larry Brown coached in Philadelphia was on Dec. 4, 2010, when the Sixers beat his Charlotte Bobcats 109-91; he was fired by team owner Michael Jordan just 17 days later.