Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr.’s potential game-tying 3-pointer missed the rim, and Temple (7-6, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) lost, 76-73, to Houston at Texas Southern University’s Health and Physical Education Arena in Houston.
The Owls have lost three games in a row, including their first two games against teams in The American. Temple’s next three games are against teams ranked in the top 80 of the Ratings Percentage Index. The team’s next game is on Monday at the Liacouras Center against Cincinnati (11-2), which is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Owls then play Central Florida (9-4, 0-1 The American), which is ranked No. 69 in the RPI, on Jan. 7 on the road. Then they’ll face Southern Methodist (11-3, 1-0 The American), which received five votes in the most recent AP poll, on Jan. 10 in Dallas.
Southern Methodist and Cincinnati are both in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s most recent NCAA Tournament projection. Temple, which ranked No. 23 in the RPI before its loss to Houston, is also in the bracket as one of the last four teams. Houston and the University of Georgia, which also beat Temple, are in Lunardi’s next four out group.
Temple’s slim halftime lead evaporated after Houston went on an 18-5 run in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. The Owls trailed, 64-49, after a putback dunk by Houston sophomore guard Armoni Brooks with six minutes, 19 seconds remaining.
Earlier in the season, Alston said he felt the Owls’ best lineup at the end of games is with four guards and senior forward Obi Enechionyia playing center.
Temple had a different lineup on the floor to close the game against Houston. Freshman forward J.P. Moorman II and freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis played alongside Alston, redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown and sophomore guard Quinton Rose.
Enechionyia shot 3-for-13 including 0-for-6 from 3-point range on Saturday. He is 0-for-11 from 3-point range in his past two games. Alston and Rose combined for 32 points just below 50 percent shooting.
Pierre-Louis served as Temple’s primary guard off the bench. He scored a career-high 11 points in Thursday’s home loss to Tulane and matched it against Houston. Pierre-Louis shot 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
Sophomore guard Alani Moore II didn’t play. He didn’t score off the bench against Tulane. Moore is averaging 5.1 points per game and shooting 28.6 percent from 3-point range. He shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range last season.
Houston scored 36 points in the paint. Temple has allowed its past seven opponents to score 30 or more points in the paint. Houston junior forward Breaon Brady scored 21 points in just 18 minutes. He notched Houston’s first six points.
After he made a basket with 9:24 left in the second half, Brady left the game with a lower left leg injury. Trainers helped him to the locker room before he returned the Cougars’ bench but didn’t return to the game.
Temple lost both of its matchups with Cincinnati last season. The Owls have bested a ranked team in each of the past 10 seasons.