Point guard Nic Moore led SMU with 18 points, four assists and three steals.

By Harry Allison

They started the game at 6 pm in deference to the ESPN starting time of 7 EST, and the rush-hour tipoff challenged SMU fans in their quest to reach Moody Coliseum on time.

The SMU Mustangs were also late in arriving, but they rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat Temple, 67-58, on Thursday night in Dallas.

“It felt like the old Moody for a minute,” said senior guard Ryan Manuel, who hit two late three-pointers. “At halftime we needed to regroup. We played one of the most energized halves that we’ve played since I’ve been here.”

Their second comeback win over the Owls (19-8 10-4) kept the Mustangs (21-5 13-2) in first place of the American Athletic Conference.

SMU has won 20 of its last 22 games. The Mustangs have exceeded their number of conference victories of last season (27-10 12-6).

The physical contest resulted in a combined 26 turnovers and 37 fouls. SMU went to the free-throw line for 33 attempts times compared to Temple’s 13.

Despite making only 2 of 9 foul shots in the first half, the Mustangs improved dramatically in the second half, sinking 18 of 24. And after making only 1 of 4 3-point attempts, they made 4 of 7 (57.1 percent) in the second.

“I looked at the body language,” SMU coach Larry Brown said. “The guys thought we were losing because we weren’t making free throws. We were losing because our energy stunk.”

Will Cummings had 14 points to lead Temple, which was outscored 15-6 down the stretch and shot 35 percent in the second half. Cummings had seven assists at halftime, and none in the second. He also had a career-high seven steals.

“We couldn’t go by them like we did in the first half a few times,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, whose team gave up a 13-point lead in the second half of a 60-55 loss to SMU at home last month. “We needed to get more drives and kicks.”

The conference-leading Mustangs were down 39-29 in the second half when they got the late-arriving fans going and started the push to their 20th win in 22 games.

Moore hit a jumper and stole the ball from Jesse Morgan near midcourt, feeding Sterling Brown to get the Mustangs within 39-36. After Moore’s free throw pulled SMU even, the junior guard ended up with the ball at the 3-point line after a near-turnover deflected off the hands of Temple’s Josh Brown. Moore hit the shot for SMU’s first lead at 46-43.

Not long after the game-deciding run late, a student section that was half-empty when the game started was chanting “Moody Madness” with the outcome settled in the final minute.

“I was a little bit disappointed early that we didn’t have a lot of people there,” Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown said. “And then all of a sudden the crowd just picked us up.”

Cunningham finished with 10 points, while Ben Moore, Sterling Moore and Markus Kennedy joined Manuel with eight points apiece.

Morgan, who had a long 3-pointer that pulled Temple even late in the second half, finished with nine points. Jaylen Bond was one of three Temple players with eight points, and he had a game-high 11 rebounds.

But as the noise intensified, the Mustangs took control. They got their first lead, 48-46, when Sterling Brown drove for the layup with 7:03 left.

Point guard Nic Moore led SMU with 18 points, four assists and three steals. Thirteen of his points came in the second half, when he made 2 of 5 three-point attempts. Cannen Cunningham led the big men with 10 points, two rebounds and two blocked shots.

Manuel entered the game with only one three-pointer in five tries. He was 2-of-2 against the Owls. He said that Brown encourages him to shoot more in practice.

Asked about giving Manuel the green light, Brown said:

“Are you going to incriminate me right now? Look, I want him to expand his game, when he’s open. We’re going to need him.”


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