Inside the court storming: Temple crushes No. 10 Kansas by 25
Temple thumped Kansas in Philadelphia on Monday night. The Owls haven’t seen many victories like this recently.
PHILADELPHIA — The fluorescent lights on the 5:45 p.m. orange, Broad Street Line subway started flickering above two fans, covered in cherry and white, sitting cross-legged on their way to the Wells Fargo Center. The heater next to them hummed all the way from the Ellsworth-Federal stop to the newly remodeled AT&T Station, the temporary home of the Temple Owls on the biggest of game days.
The married pair said Temple didn’t have “a shot in hell” to beat Kansas. The husband said he was only going “because his wife graduated from the school.”
It was the same carrot-colored cruiser that carried Fran Dunphy and his team to the arena that night. It was a team motivated for a win, hungry to fix their 2012 loss in Allen Fieldhouse to the Jayhawks. It was the first time senior Will Cummings could get the memory of a last minute turnover from his sophomore year, that haunted him since.
After 40 minutes, Temple had defeated the No. 10 team in the nation by 25 points. On Christmas break, faithful Owl student-supporters, the ones that stood by the storied franchise through their 9-22 season, one of the worst in school history, gathered by the far right baseline. Temple was going to do it again. Cummings knew the court storm was coming.
“It sinks in when they rush the court,” Cummings said Monday night after the win. “It happened my freshman year when we beat Duke. And I really wanted it to happen again. I didn’t think they were going to rush the court. But it happened. It’s a great feeling to celebrate with the fans that stick with us like the season we had last year and they still come out to games. It was a great crowd tonight. We wanted to give them something to celebrate.”
It was the sixth time Temple beat a top ranked team in seven seasons, the last coming against No. 23 SMU in February. Before that? No. 21 VCU in March 2013 and No. 3 Syracuse in December 2012, the last time they beat a top-10 ranked squad.
The additions of former UMass guard Jesse Morgan and Clemson guard Devin Coleman were huge additions to the Owls roster. They’ve gone undefeated since they were eligible to start playing. It started with what Temple has shown all season: a gritty, scrappy defensive performance on the interior which led to opportunities for their speedy guards.
Noah Heimbach, 23, remembers when Cummings and crew beat No. 3 Duke years ago. He was there Monday night for Kansas. And he’ll never forget the night nearly three years prior.
“This is the second time in Wells Fargo, probably the third and fourth overall,” Heimbach said about his time storming courts at Temple. “I didn’t expect us to win tonight but it’s always a lot of fun. It’s cool to be down here on the same court the Sixers play on.”
20-year old Emmet Nealon was smeared in red and black face paint with glitter and a crimson Temple Owls jersey as he stood mid-court going wild with his classmates. He called the experience “unreal,” and the entire reason he attends college basketball games.
“I’ve been living for this moment,” he yelled next to thousands of Temple students swarming the court with the team. “I’ve been praying for an upset and it finally came true. It’s phenomenal. Temple ’til I die, man.”
It was a party on South Broad Street, one Morgan said he never came close to experiencing during his time with UMass. Temple shot 69.2 percent from the field in the second half. The Owls limited Perry Ellis to 1-of-10 shooting and Cliff Alexander to two points.
Dunphy said that his team was “totally in sync” and it was a “good night” for the program. Self admitted that it didn’t matter how much energy they played with, Temple was “so much better” than Kansas and Temple was the “superior team.”
The fans rocked the house through every big Jaylen Bond dunk, every Cummings scoop shot and every Morgan triple from deep. Dunphy said the fans were much needed when they played Kansas, this time and three years ago.
“The student body is tremendous for us and we need them greatly,” Dunphy said. “Playing Kansas and playing them at Well Fargo only adds to how many people want to come to the game. The Kansas fans are as good as it gets when it comes to traveling. A couple of years ago when we played on campus, the house was 50-50…tonight was our night to shine and I’m happy for our kids.”
Temple has stormed the court pic.twitter.com/qubzDRLvC8
— Tyler R. Tynes (@TylerRickyTynes) December 23, 2014
Emily Donahue, 19, was near tears as she stood near the sidelines while the students finally left the court. The euphoria had ceased. The Wells Fargo Center was silent. And Temple did the unthinkable hours before the tip at half court.
Donahue couldn’t believe it. If only for a night, Temple was back.
“It’s just great to see a school come out and support a team when we are on Christmas break like this. It was a great experience. I would love to do it again. I never thought I would be able to storm a court, especially not against Kansas. I’m so happy to be a Temple Owl. I can’t even explain the emotions.”