With less than one second left, Tramon Mark got a fantastic look at the rim on a lob, but the shot missed, and #1 Houston lost a stunner at home to Temple, 56-55. The Cougars (18-2) dropped their first conference game.
Once again, UH started slow at home and seemed to be a half-step behind the Owls early on. Houston fell behind, 18-12, after committing their seventh team foul. Temple also did a great job keeping the Cougars off the offensive glass, only allowing 12 on 37 missed shots (32.4%).
In the final 5+ minutes of the first half, Jarace Walker and J’Wan Roberts finally started to get to the glass more, and the Cougars went on a 12-3 run to take the lead, 30-27. Houston outrebounded Temple 7-1 in that stretch, with Roberts and Walker gobbling up five.
After a late Temple three-pointer, the teams went to the locker room tied at 30. It was the first time this season UH hasn’t led at halftime. The Cougars struggled from the foul line, going 3-7 in the first half.
Temple took the lead 36-32 to start the second half, as UH committed four fouls in as many minutes. A key turning point was J’Wan Roberts picking up his third and fourth fouls within 45 seconds of each other. He went to the bench with 16 minutes left,
Houston missed four more free throws in the first eight minutes.
Despite the free throw woes, the Cougars clawed back and took a 40-39 lead with 13:30 to play. Midway through the second half, thanks to five-straight points from Marcus Sasser. On the first bucket of that sequence, Sasser battled for an offensive rebound, then quickly laid it in as he was being fouled and made the subsequent free throw.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Marcus Sasser was called for a foul while diving for a loose ball. Sampson protested and was immediately given a technical. Temple made all four free throws to take a 47-44 lead.
With 8:31 to play, Jamal Shead hit a pair of free throws, the only time the Cougars made both shots all night. Houston made consecutive free throws just twice in the game.
After the free throws, the Owls responded with an 8-1 run to take their biggest lead, 55-48, with 6:37 to go. Sampson called timeout, and the Cougars turned up the pressure on defense and cut the lead to three.
With 90 seconds to go, after a Sasser miss, J’Wan Roberts ripped the ball from a Temple player and muscled a dunk over him, getting the and-one on top. Roberts hit the free throw to tie it at 55, but that would be the last point UH would score.
Temple’s leading scorer Damian Dunn was fouled on the next drive and made one of two free throws, giving the Owls the lead with a minute remaining. It was Temple’s only point of the last 6:37 of the game.
Temple was called for a shot-clock violation on their next trip down the court, having milked 29 seconds off the clock. UH got the ball with eight seconds to go. Shead drove down the lane, but his lay-up attempt was blocked out of bounds with 1.3 seconds left. Kelvin Sampson drew up a great play on the inbounds, with Shead throwing an alley-oop to Mark, but the shot just missed as time expired.
Dozens of plays could have been the difference, but free throws will be the story. The Cougars shot a dismal 11-21 from the line, while Temple missed just two of their 22 attempts.
Key Stat: Houston was 3/9 on free throws from 9:17 left in the first half until 9:26 in the second.