Temple University men’s basketball (7-6, 0-2, The American Athletic Conference) fell 66-61 to the No. 12 ranked University of Houston (12-2,1-0, The American) on Sunday evening after a close game, with the Cougars clinging to their lead down to the final seconds.
“We got ourselves in foul trouble,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “I think if we clean that stuff up, it could have potentially been a different outcome. We let them get off to a good start to start the game and you don’t want to do that with a team that’s on the road.”
The loss came days after the Owls postponed their matchup against Villanova University on Dec. 29 due to COVID-19 issues in Temple’s program. Houston also had its conference home opener on Dec. 28 against the University of Cincinnati (10-4, 0-0 The American) postponed for the same reason.
Temple began the game slowly on both sides of the ball, putting themselves in a deficit early on.
Redshirt-sophomore forward Arashma Parks, who made his first start of the season, threw a bad pass, resulting in Houston redshirt-sophomore forward J’Wan Roberts stealing and dunking the ball and extending the Cougars’ lead to 36-20.
The Owls responded seconds later when freshman guard Hysier Miller made a 3-point basket. Then, a steal by freshman guard Jahlil White assisted Miller in another basket, making the score 36-25 with two minutes left in the first half.
The Cougars scored 18 points in the first six minutes of the game. Temple switched gears late in the first half and began applying more defensive pressure, allowing the Owls to come back from a 13-point deficit.
Temple kept the Cougars in a scoring drought for more than four minutes during the first half, but pressure slowly faded as the half came to a close, and the Owls trailed by 11 at halftime.
The Owls brought the defensive pressure back after halftime, putting the Cougars in another scoring drought for just less than three minutes. Freshman guard Jeremiah Williams cut Houston’s lead to one point after capitalizing on a bad pass by the Cougars reducing the lead to 42-41.
Despite the strong defensive showing, Temple’s foul trouble awarded the Cougars multiple free throw opportunities which ultimately clinched the win.
Redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn led the team in scoring with 14 points and freshman forward Nick Jourdain finished with 12 points.
“I’ll take the effort, but, you know, it’s a loss,” McKie said. “It’s something that we can grow from, they’re certainly one of the better teams in the country, but, you know, we wanted to make a statement and we didn’t make the statement that I wanted the guys to make.”
Temple will hit the road to take on the University of Central Florida (9-3,1-1, The American) on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m.