Temple mens's basketball (19-7, 10-3 American) embarks on a critical conference road trip this week with the first stop being against the league's top team, #21 SMU (21-5, 12-2 American) on Thursday (7:00 pm ET/ESPN2/1210 AM WPHT).
The Owls enter the game winners of a conference-best seven straight games. The Mustangs, guided by Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, are also hot of late, having won three straight and 11 of their last 12.
Temple's current win streak coincided with the return of senior guard Will Cummings
to the lineup. The reigning conference Player of the Week missed all or part of the team's three losses just prior to the current streak, including the Owls' loss to the Mustangs. In that game, a 60-55 setback in Philadelphia, Cummings came off the bench for the lone time in the past two seasons, playing 27 minutes and scoring a season low one point.
The team co-captain, back at 100 percent, tops the team in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (4.1 apg), steals (1.8 spg), and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0).
Fellow senior Jesse Morgan
(12.8 ppg) and junior Quenton DeCosey
(12.7 ppg) also score in double figures while junior Jaylen Bond
(8.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) leads The American in rebounding. Sophomore center Devontae Watson
(2.5 ppg) rounds out head coach Fran Dunphy
's starting five.
Cincinnati is the only conference team to defeat the Mustangs so far, doing so in both meetings. Two of the Mustangs' other three losses are to teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time of the contest (#13/11 Gonzaga and #25 Arkansas).
The Mustangs have four players averaging double figures in scoring, led by redshirt junior guard Nic Moore (14.4 ppg, 5.4 apg/1st in The American). SMU's sixth man, Villanova transfer and Philadelphia native, Markus Kennedy (11.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) was the key to the Mustangs win over the Owls, scoring a game-high 21 points and matching Bond with a game-high seven rebounds.