PREVIEW: Houston Cougars head up to Philadelphia for a rematch with Temple Owls

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock (13730726e) Houston’s Tramon Mark (12) drives to the basket as Temple’s Damian Dunn (1) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston Temple Basketball, Houston, United States – 22 Jan 2023

PREVIEW: Houston Cougars head up to Philadelphia for a rematch with Temple Owls

The game between the Houston Cougars and Temple Owls on Sunday will be a highly anticipated rematch as UH seeks to avenge its only conference loss of the year.

No. 3 Houston is coming off another comeback win on Thursday night when it defeated Wichita State, 70-61. The Cougars (21-2, 9-1 American Athletic) shook off a strong performance from the Shockers on the glass and on defense as UH made the winning plays late to leave Kansas with a win.

Temple (14-9, 8-2 AAC) enters Sunday’s game riding a four-game winning streak and has not played since last Saturday when it defeated Central Florida, 77-70, on the road in overtime.

The story of the first game between the two teams was their inability to get anything going consistently on offense. Ultimately, the difference in the outing was Temple’s stellar free-throw shooting compared to Houston’s lackluster numbers.

“A big part of that game is that one team was 20-for-22 from the free-throw line. The other one was 11-for-21,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters on Friday. “But that was the same team that was 13-for-15 [against Wichita State], so we are capable of being a good free-throw shooting team.”

Despite shooting 19-of-56 from the field, Houston found itself in a position to pull off an improbable walk-off win in the final seconds of regulation but fell just short on a layup from redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark.

Sophomore guard Damian Dunn led the Owls on Jan. 22 with 16 points, seven of which came from the free-throw line. For Houston, junior guard Jamal Shead led the team in scoring with 13 points.

For the season, Temple’s leading scorer is sophomore guard Khalif Battle 17.7 points per game. Dunn is second, averaging 14.9 per contest.

“Last time we played Temple, we kind of underestimated them a little bit, their abilities to kind of dice up our defense,” Mark said. “So, I think we are more locked in on the defensive end more than anything this time going into Philly.”

Houston is making a quick turnaround from Thursday’s game against Wichita State to Sunday’s against Temple. According to a UH spokesperson, the Cougars didn’t land back in the city after 1 a.m. They leave for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

The Cougars’ game against Temple will tip off at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN2. It can also be heard on KPRC 950 AM radio in Houston.

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