COLUMBIA, Mo. – Fran Dunphy's last season as Temple's coach produced a November to remember. The Owls calmly held off a late Missouri charge to win 79-77, claiming their third victory over a Power 5 conference opponent this season after previous wins over Georgia and Cal.
"Just a very good win for us," said Dunphy, who is retiring after his 13th season at Temple. "To come on the road and play a program like Missouri is a tremendous opportunity for our group, and we sustained our good effort throughout."
Quinton Rose scored 18 points, Shizz Alston finished with 15 points, De'Vondre Perry added 11 points and Ernest Aflakpui grabbed 12 rebounds for the Owls (6-1).
Temple outscored Missouri 16-4 in the final 3:20 of the first half to open a 42-32 halftime lead. The Tigers (3-3) got within two points in the final two minutes thanks to outstanding outside shooting – they were 11 of 19 from 3-point range – but the Owls never gave up their lead after intermission.
"Alston is a good player, and we felt as a staff that the middle ball screen with him – because he's shifty and can make shots and make plays – we felt like that was the biggest concern," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He found guys in the corner, and some guys made shots."
Mark Smith led Missouri with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, Kevin Puryear added 16 points and Jeremiah Tilmon had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Missouri's Jordan Geist hit a 3-pointer to cut the Temple lead to 77-75 with 14 seconds left. The Tigers fouled Alston, who made both free throws to secure the game. Alston, who had made all 17 free throws he had attempted entering the game, was just 1 of 3 from the foul line against Missouri before his crucial makes.
"He's as good a foul shooter as I think there is in the country, and I was surprised that he missed any of them," Dunphy said. "He's automatic, usually. So when he got fouled, that was a good thing for us. He's a real solid player and a guy you want the ball in his hands at crunch time."
The Owls forced four turnovers in in the final 3:20 of the first half. Temple entered the game ranked seventh nationally with 10.5 steals per game, and Missouri entered with a minus-2.2 turnover margin. As expected, turnovers hurt the Tigers, who committed 15 while forcing only five.
"We're not going to beat good teams turning the ball over 15-plus times a game. . We can't have that," Puryear said. "We've got to be focused with the ball. We've got to be tough with the ball. We've got to see all of our passes through."
Temple: The Owls' stars played like stars, even when their shots weren't falling. Rose made just 1 of 6 3-pointers, but he made four steals and dished three assists. Alston shot just 5 of 17 from the field but had six assists and no turnovers.
Missouri: Tilmon, a sophomore forward, has been an enigmatic player early in his career, often taking himself out of games with foul trouble or going for long stretches without grabbing a rebound. He didn't have a single rebound in the first half but came alive after the break to finish with 10. Missouri needs that performance consistently if it is going to compensate for the loss of star forward Jontay Porter, who tore his ACL in the preseason.
"We talk to him all the time: 'You have to rebound the ball. You have to control that area,'" Martin said. "I thought he did a better job in the second half. With him, he's got to be assertive. His strength is being vocal, being active, rebounding the basketball, running the floor. If he scores the ball, great, but he has to bring those things to the table."
Temple: The Owls return to Philadelphia for a game at Saint Joseph's on Saturday.
Missouri: The Tigers will face a second straight American Athletic Conference opponent when UCF visits Mizzou Arena on Sunday. Temple was picked to finish sixth in the AAC by the league's coaches, while UCF was projected to win the league.