Houston (14-14) at Temple (7-20)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liacouras Center (10,200) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Houston 11-4, Temple 3-8. Away Record: Houston 2-8, Temple 1-9. Neutral Record: Houston 1-2, Temple 3-3. Conference Record: Houston 5-9, Temple 2-13. Series Record: Houston leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, the Houston Cougars have made the trek to Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls in an American Athletic Conference tilt at the Liacouras Center.
Houston is on a mini-roll of late, having won its last two and three of its last five games overall. The Cougars got a huge boost on Thursday night as they took down No. 21 Memphis, 77-68, at home. They currently sit in sixth place in AAC standings.
Temple was felled by Louisville on Thursday night on the road, 88-66, as the Owls reached 20 losses in a season for the first time in the program's 118- year history. That was the third straight setback for the last-place Owls, and the seventh in their last eight outings overall.
Houston won the only other meeting between these two programs in an 88-74 decision at home back on Feb. 9. TaShawn Thomas had 25 points and nine rebounds as the Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak with the win. Thomas finished 10-of-12 shooting and had six blocks, as the Cougars shot 54 percent for the game, including 11-of-24 from behind the arc.
Danuel House scored 19 points off the bench to help Houston hold off Memphis. TaShawn Thomas scored 16 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocks and Jherrod Stiggers added 14 points for the Cougars. With the score tied at 63-63 with 3:53 remaining, L.J. Rose started the Cougars on their game-ending run with two free throws. House hit a 3-pointer before Dixon cut the lead to three with a layup with 1:33 remaining, but that was as close as Memphis would get.
With a sub-.500 record in conference play, it's not a shock to see Houston giving up more points than it scores on average. The Cougars are netting 70.1 ppg while yielding 71.4 ppg, and they are also being outrebounded (-2.1) and are also slightly in the red with regard to turnover margin (-0.9). They do however, narrowly outshoot the opposition (.450 to .441), and there are three double-digit scorers on the roster, led by Thomas and his 15.8 ppg. Not just an offensive player, Thomas is also a force in the paint, as he pulls down 8.4 rpg while also swatting away 80 shots, both good for second-best in the AAC. If that wasn't enough, he also paces the team in steals with 35. House (13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Stiggers (10.5 ppg) and Rose (8.2 ppg, 5.4 apg) have also made solid contributions.
Will Cummings scored 18 points and Quenton DeCosey had 17 to lead Temple in the loss to Louisville, The Owls played their fifth straight game against a ranked team for the first time ever, including two against the reigning national champion Cardinals. Louisville trailed 2-0, then scored the next 13 points and never looked back. The lead reached 18 just 7:07 into the game, and was 42-29 at halftime and the Owls never challenged after the break.
Temple is shooting a meager 42.6 percent from the field this season, while scoring a decent 73.0 ppg, but is giving up a league-worst 77.6 ppg. Despite failing to reach double figures against the Cardinals, Dalton Pepper has stepped into a leadership role this season and has delivered to the tune of 16.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Cummings has put up big numbers as well at 16.3 ppg, followed closely by DeCosey and Anthony Lee with 15.3 and 13.8 ppg, respectively. However, no other player on the roster is averaging more than 6.7 ppg. Lee leads the AAC in rebounding with 8.8 rpg, but he does not get much help on the glass, as the Owls are near the bottom of the conference in total rebounding (35.6 rpg).
Temple is in the midst of an historically bad season and has little to look forward to as far as postseason play goes. Houston has been playing better of late but would still need a conference championship run to make the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have much better offensive weapons than the Owls, so expect them to leave the City of Brotherly Love with a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 78, Temple 64
03/01 11:53:59 ET