Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock (13722007e) Houston forward Ja’Vier Francis (5) slam dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tulane in New Orleans Houston Tulane Basketball, New Orleans, United States – 17 Jan 2023
PREVIEW: No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball hosts Temple Owls, seeking 10th-straight victory
The Houston Cougars basketball team returns to action on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the visiting Temple Owls inside Fertitta Center.
No. 1 Houston, winners of nine straight games, is coming off a 20-point victory over Tulane on Tuesday. Temple (11-9, 5-2 American Athletic) enters the matchup off a 73-58 win over East Carolina.
“They are a very talented team,” Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters Thursday morning on a Zoom call. “I think Aaron [McKie] has got this group playing the right way.”
Temple is led by a pair of dynamic guards, Sampson said. Sophomore guard Khalif Battle leads the Owls in scoring with 17.5 points a game. He also averages 3.9 rebounds per contest.
“Battle is a little keg of dynamite,” Sampson stated. “He’s just an elite scorer.”
The other elite guard the Owls have is sophomore guard Damian Dunn, Sampson added. He is averaging 15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per matchup.
Sampson pointed out Dunn’s ability to get to the free-throw line as one of his biggest assets. Dunn averages 6.1 free-throw attempts per game.
The Houston head coach said sophomore guard Hysier Miller is a strong shooter, smart, and knows how the run the Owls’ system. He leads the team in assists with 3.6 per game. Sophomore forward Jahlil White is Temple’s identity guy, Sampson mentioned. He is tough, a rebounder, and a straight-line driver.
For Houston, sophomore guard Ramon Walker rejoined the program on Monday during the team’s trip to New Orleans. Sampson said last week he had taken a leave of absence to “work on Ramon.”
Walker’s first full practice with the Houston Cougars basketball team was Thursday, Sampson stated. While he is still battling through some things, the team has slowly worked him back in, Sampson added.
Houston’s game against Temple will tip off at 2 p.m. on Sunday and will air live on ESPN and also will be able to be heard on KPRC 950 AM.