January 23, 2016

With blizzard conditions socking the East Coast, SMU must wait one more day for the chance to continue its perfect season.

Though it might not be easy, the eighth-ranked Mustangs can do so by starting 6-0 on the road for the first time in school history with a victory Sunday at Temple.

Originally scheduled for Saturday night, the severe storm that's dropped more than a foot of snow on the Philadelphia area forced this matchup to be pushed back a little more than 12 hours to Noon EST. Conditions are expected to be clear Sunday, giving SMU (18-0, 7-0 American Athletic) a shot to continue the best start in school history.

Division I's lone unbeaten, the Mustangs have won their five road games by an average of 14.2 points to equal the program's best start from 1934-35.

Though Temple (10-7, 4-2) has allowed an average of 64.4 points while going 5-2 at home and won at AAC foes Cincinnati and Connecticut when both were ranked this season, the Mustangs should be confident after winning 60-55 there last season.

Senior forward and Philadelphia native Markus Kennedy scored 21 for SMU, which shot 52.2 percent while outscoring the Owls by 12 in the second half of that road victory. Kennedy has averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in his last five against Temple.

"They're very much similar (as) they were last year," said coach Fran Dunphy, whose team went 0-3 against the Mustangs in 2014-15. "They're great. (Larry Brown) coaches them like crazy, and they make very few mistakes on either end of the court.

"It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us and I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

While the Owls can use this contest as a benchmark, Kennedy and the Mustangs are chasing the statement of an undefeated season with NCAA sanctions keeping them out of all postseason competition in 2015-16.

"It's just got to be fun for us," said Kennedy, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in Tuesday's 77-73 home win over Houston. "We're in a position that no other team in the country is in so we've got to embrace it."

The Mustangs certainly have while leading the AAC with 80 points per game and 51.4 field-goal percentage while ranking among the national leaders with a plus-11.6 average rebounding margin.

"I'm just in awe of our team," Brown said. "I'm just proud of the way we've handled everything, and how much we've grown and how much better we're getting."

After their three previous games were decided by an average of 18 points, the Mustangs showed some grit by overcoming an eight-point first-half deficit Tuesday in a game they trailed for 26 1/2 minutes. SMU shot 49 percent, but was outrebounded by five.

"It's fun when it's like this," said guard Sterling Brown, who had 15 points, four assists and four rebounds against the Cougars. "When you know you are in a dogfight, those are fun. Especially when you come out in front."

SMU could be in for a similar challenge against the Owls, who beat Cincinnati 67-65 in double-overtime at home last Saturday then hit half of their 52 shots in Wednesday's 62-49 win over Big 5 rival LaSalle.

Quenton DeCosey is Temple's only player averaging double-figure points with 15.6, and he's totaled 46 on 17-of-33 shooting in the last two at home.

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