PHILADELPHIA — For Dru Smith and Missouri, it’s been hard not to dwell on a stunning home loss to Charleston Southern earlier this week.
Only thing to do was take it out on the next team on the schedule.
Javon Pickett scored a season-high 16 points off the bench and Missouri snapped a three-game losing streak, beating Temple 64-54 on Saturday night.
Smith added 12 points and six rebounds for the visiting Tigers (5-4), whose loss to Charleston Southern on Tuesday was one of the worst of coach Cuonzo Martin’s tenure.
“Obviously it’s been on our minds,” Smith said. “It’s something we had to learn from. We had to move on. There’s a lot of season left in front of us. I think we did a good job today using that as fuel and coming out and playing much better.”
Quinton Rose led the way for Temple (6-2) with 16 points, 10 of which came in the first half. The Owls committed a season-high 19 turnovers, including an overthrown pass in transition with a minute to go to dash any comeback hopes. They also shot 2 for 21 from 3-point range.
“They didn’t really pressure us; we were just careless with the ball,” Rose said. “Maybe it is a lack of focus. We’ll figure it out.”
Trailing by six early in the second half, the Owls reeled off the next 12 points to take their first lead since they were up 4-2. The run began with a Monty Scott 3-pointer and included a Jake Forrester dunk that electrified a previously frustrated Liacouras Center crowd.
Forrester, an Indiana transfer who had to sit out the first four games until getting cleared to play by the NCAA, finished with 11 points in his first home game for the Owls.
Pickett helped Missouri fight back to tie the game at 47-47 with eight minutes remaining, and the Tigers took the lead 53-52 on a Jeremiah Tillman transition dunk with four minutes to go. Mark Smith’s 3-pointer put the Tigers ahead 57-52 with 2:53 left, and Xavier Pinson helped close out the win with a driving layup in the final minute.
The Tigers outscored the Owls 15-2 over the final six-and-a-half minutes.
“I think we’re as good as any team in the SEC,” Martin said. “But you have to do it on the floor every night. It’s one thing for me to believe it. They have to understand and believe it. And this was a great win for us against a very talented team.”
Temple had more turnovers (11) than made field goals (eight) in the first half to fall behind 33-27 at halftime. No one on the Owls besides Rose scored until Forrester hit a free throw more than eight minutes into the contest.
Can't open the Pickett fence
Martin credited Pickett for putting the defensive clamps on Rose, Temple’s top scorer, in the second half.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if he spends 10 years in the NBA,” the Missouri coach said of Rose. “And I thought Javon really embraced that challenge. He’s not an easy guy to defend.”
Martin also praised the energy Pickett brings off the bench, which is a role the sophomore says has helped him.
“I feel more relaxed,” said Pickett, who started 31 games as a freshman last season. “Coach all the time is telling me to be myself. I feel like I’m starting to be myself more.”
Missouri: The Tigers avoided the slow starts that had been plaguing them, leading for most of the first half before staging their winning rally midway through the second half. They also scored a measure of revenge on an Owls squad that beat them in a thriller last year at Mizzou Arena, 79-77.
Temple: Despite Saturday’s setback, the Owls are showing promise under first-year coach Aaron McKie, who replaced Fran Dunphy. Their only losses have come to power conference teams, No. 3 Maryland and now Missouri, while they’ve beaten another Southeastern Conference squad, Texas A&M, and also Southern California on the road.
Missouri: The Tigers return home to face Southern Illinois on Dec. 15.
Temple: The Owls host Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday in one of Philadelphia’s most intense rivalry games.