The No. 3 Houston Cougars avenged their lone conference loss, outscoring Temple 48-28 in a dominant second half to win on the road.
Much like the last game between these two, the fouls were plentiful early on. By the under-16 timeout, each team had three points and three fouls. After that, the game began to settle down, but five early turnovers prevented the Cougars from gaining an advantage.
Jarace Walker hit five of his first six shots, including his first three attempts from beyond the arc, the last one giving UH a 23-20 lead with eight minutes until the half. Walker and the rest of the Houston frontcourt defended the paint effectively, forcing the Owls outside. They hit five three-pointers in a row and took a 37-33 lead into halftime. They were 9/17 on threes.
Walker scored 16 in the first half, while Marcus Sasser had another quiet start. J’Wan Roberts had early foul trouble again, playing just five minutes.
The Cougars came out on a mission in the second half, going on a 13-0 run to stun the Philly home crowd. UH was energetic and opportunistic, blocking two shots and grabbing three steals early on. Houston flustered Temple at the hoop, holding them to 4/14 shooting (28.6%). The Coogs were 13/17 at the basket (76.5%).
The Owls struggled with the relentless UH pressure. After a tough first half, J’Wan Roberts turned the paint into a no-fly zone, swatting four shots in the first nine minutes. Houston’s on-ball pressure kept the Owls from getting off a clean look on the perimeter, and UH pushed the lead to 15 just after the under-12 timeout.
Temple made a small run, cutting the lead to five and getting the home crowd on their feet. But Jarace Walker, playing his first collegiate game in his home state, buried his fourth three-pointer to silence the building. That shot kickstarted a 12-3 run that effectively put the game away.
It was perhaps the best half of basketball the Cougars had played all season. Houston went 18-25 (72%) from the floor in the second half while holding the Owls to 7/24 (29.2%). In addition, UH blocked almost as many shots (6) as Temple made buckets.
Jarace finished as the game’s leading scorer with 23 on 8/12 shooting, while Jamal Shead tacked on 12 points to go along with seven assists and three steals.
Houston is now 22-2 and 10-1 in the American and is still perfect on the road (8-0). With No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 Tennessee losing in the past week, the Cougars should move back into the top spot in the AP poll.
Lagniappe: in two games vs. Temple this season, Houston held the Owls to 12/45 shooting in the second halves (26.7) while forcing 15 turnovers.