for this game

Temple's Christmas lights up Tennessee

Dec 13, 2008 - 9:15 PM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Christmas came early for Temple.

Dionte Christmas scored 26 of 35 points in the second half, leading Temple to an 88-72 upset of eighth-ranked Tennessee on Saturday.

After a relatively slow start, Christmas was nearly unstoppable over the final 20 minutes in leading the Owls (5-3) to a signature win in Fran Dunphy's third season as coach.

"We played about as good as we could play," Dunphy said. "Everything just came together."

Christmas did a majority of his damage from outside, making seven 3-pointers. The 6-5 guard went 12-of-22 overall from the floor in falling two points shy of matching his career high.

"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."

In his last two games, Christmas had been in funk, making just 4-of-19 shots from the floor, including just 3-of-14 attempts from the arc. He managed just two points in a 65-59 win over Penn State last Saturday.

The struggles for Christmas ended when he scored the Owls' first nine points of the second half Saturday. His burst allowed the Owls to open a 45-31 advantage with just over 16 minutes remaining.

Christmas drilled six of his 3-pointers in the second half as the Owls repelled each run from the Volunteers en route to their second straight win. Temple has another test next Saturday when it visits defending national champion Kansas.

Sergio Olmos added 19 points and Ryan Brooks 16 for Temple, which beat a top-10 opponent for the first time since knocking off No. 10 Indiana during the 2002 season.

Tyler Smith scored 17 points and Bobby Maze contributed 15 for the Vols (6-2), who got as close as 52-48 with just over 11 minutes remaining.

Christmas responded by hitting three shots from the arc and scoring 13 points in less than four minutes, helping the Owls expand the lead to 67-52 with under nine minutes left.

Tennessee played without second-leading scorer J.P. Prince due to an ankle injury. The junior, averaging 11.3 points, was injured in practice Friday.