For a top-10 team, this Tennessee squad really hasn’t seemed that overwhelming, has it? Well, if you were feeling that way heading into Saturday’s slate of college basketball games, you can officially pat yourself on the back. Tennessee now has a second loss, thanks to the Temple Owls and, right on time, a man with the surname of Christmas.
(Merry Christmas! Yes, it’s a bad pun. We’re sorry.)
Dionte Christmas scored a season-high 35 points, helping lift the Owls right over Rocky Top in Philadelphia, helping the A-10ers pull away for an 88-72 win. The win was easily the biggest regular season win in coach Fran Dunphy’s brief three-year tenure and culminated with Santa-suit clad students rushing the court as the final buzzer sounded.
Christmas hit six of his seven three pointers in the second half, and even as he was pulling up for more and more open jumpers from range, Tennessee failed to adjust its trapping defense, instead letting the sharpshooter fire away. Clearly, that was a bad move.
“I didn’t think I’d get the looks I got today,” Christmas said. “I usually don’t get that many good looks. Fortunately, I was knocking them down.”
Sergio Olmos was also huge for Temple, finishing with five blocks and 19 points, helping Temple pull away in the second half after Tennessee cut its lead to to four.
(Plenty to yell about, and little has to do with his ex-wife’s nail salon.)
And the Volunteers? Tyler Smith was predictably impressive, finishing with 17 points and a huge hand in keeping Tennessee in the game. Not that his scoring helped pick up Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl’s enthusiasm after the loss.
“Our reputation is we’re a team that plays hard and today I don’t think we played that hard,” Pearl said. … “We’re ranked too high. We have a long way to go.”
All proving that Temple is in for a much merrier Christmas than Pearl all year round, regardless of divorce proceedings.