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Monday, May 29, 2023

Men's Basketball

Temple stuns No. 1 UH, snapping Cougars’ 9-game win streak

UH guard Marcus Sasser was held to just 12 points in the Cougars' loss to Temple on Sunday afternoon. | Anh Le/The Cougar

UH guard Marcus Sasser was held to just 12 points in the Cougars’ loss to Temple on Sunday afternoon. | Anh Le/The Cougar

In the past, Houston has been able to overcome shooting woes with a timely shot when it matter most. That big-time basket never arrived on Sunday afternoon against Temple.

“We just never could make the big play,” said UH head coach Kelvin Sampson. “We needed a big shot. Tonight, we didn’t. We never made the big shot.”

Even a perfectly executed inbounds play that gave guard Tramon Mark an open look at the game-winner just feet from the basket didn’t fall. 

“You’re not going to get a better one than that,” Sampson said. “I thought the execution was great. Just missed the shot.”

Instead of UH rushing the court to celebrate a buzzer-beating victory, the jubilation erupted from the Temple bench as the Owls upset the top-ranked Cougars 56-55, leaving a sold-out Fertitta Center speechless. The loss marked the  second time this season that UH fell on its home floor as the nation’s No. 1 team and just the Cougars’ sixth loss in 77 games all-time at Fertitta Center.

For the first time all season, UH didn’t hold the lead going into halftime. Instead, the Owls and Cougars were tied at 30.

Down seven with 6:37 remaining, UH used a 7-0 run that was capped off when junior forward J’Wan Roberts took the ball out of a Temple player’s hands right under the basket and finished a layup through contact for an old-fashioned 3-point play to tie the game at 55.

Roberts committed his fifth foul 24 seconds later, sending Temple’s Damian Dunn to the free throw line. After missing the first, Dunn converted on his second free throw which ended up being the game-winning point.

Temple only made five field goals in the second half, none of which came in the final 7:18 of the game, and finished shooting 31.1 percent for the game. The Owls made up for their poor shooting at the free-throw line, finishing 20-of-22. UH, on the other hand, went just 11-of-21 from the charity stripe.

“I do know (my players) weren’t trying to miss them. They were trying to make them,” Sampson said. “It’s not a fair fight when one team goes 20-for-22 and the other goes 11-for-21 (from the free-throw line).”

Jamal Shead led UH in scoring with 13 points on 4-of -16 shooting. Marcus Sasser finished with 12 points and Jarace Walker had nine points and 12 rebounds.

As a team, UH shot a mere 33.9 percent from the field.

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