A slow start in the first half left Temple University men’s basketball in a hole they couldn’t get out of in their loss to nationally-ranked Houston Tuesday night.
The Owls (1-1, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) took on the undefeated Cougars (6-0, 1-0 The American) on Dec. 22 and ultimately fell by a score of 76-50.
The Owls’ poor defense allowed the Cougars to make multiple shots beyond the arc, completing 38.5 percent of their 3-pointers. Temple was unable to find shooting opportunities in the first half, allowing Houston to lead by 10 at halftime which grew to a 26 point lead by the end of the game.
Cougars senior forward Justin Gorham was three for three on 3-point attempts while junior guard Quentin Grimes made 4-of-9 from beyond the arc and led the team with 22 points.
Both teams had a high number of fouls. The Cougars finished the game with 23 total fouls, and Temple had 18.
Each team also committed more than 17 turnovers, but what saved Houston was their ability to shoot compared to Temple. The Cougars shot 48 percent from the field, while the Owls shot 29 percent from the field.
Less than half of the Owls’ points came from the free throw line, where they made 19 out of 25 attempts.
Defensive coverage was key going into this game to stop the Cougars’ high powered offense. Temple responded by grabbing 17 defensive rebounds, but they struggled keeping Houston off the offensive glass. Gorham recorded 12 total rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds.
“We have to do a better job with being more physical and aggressive on the defensive end,” said senior forward J.P Moorman II. “It starts from our front line defense, but we didn’t do a good job guarding Houston’s players.”
Moorman II led Temple in scoring with 12 points and senior guard Brendan Barry finished second with nine points coming from three shots from beyond the arc.
The Owls’ starting line up was the same from their first game, but Barry and sophomore guard Tai Strickland saw the court longer than junior forward Jake Forrester, who only played for a total of 15 minutes.
Barry had a smooth connection on the court with freshman guard Jeremiah Williams, who had four assists and generated the majority of the team’s offensive plays.
Temple had to be mentally tough going up against the Cougars, who are known as a physical team, which is something the group will have to work on, head coach Aaron McKie said.
There was a scuffle on the court between redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn and Gorham, but officials did not rule any disciplinary action and both players remained in the game.
The Owls continued to produce on the offensive end throughout the remainder of the second half, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Cougars offense.
“On the first three of the game, Williams came off Grimes, and plays like that set a tone for the rest of the game,” McKie said. “We had missed defense assignments between their three shooters, and the second half they tried to attack the paint.”
Temple will take a break this weekend, but the team will be back at the Liacouras Center on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. to go against Southern Methodist (5-0, 1-0 The American) for the Owls’ second conference game of the 2020-21 season.