For a Houston team cruising through AAC play, Sunday was supposed to be a cakewalk.
Temple had other ideas. The Owls choked the top-ranked Cougars from the opening tip and finished the game with a dramatic defensive stand to secure a stunning 56-55 upset.
The Owls took a late lead on a Damian Dunn free throw with 1:06 left and then turned back two Cougars layups in the final seconds of the game. As the clock ticked under 10 seconds, Houston’s All-AAC guard Jamal Shead attacked the basket for a starting shot. Temple’s Kur Jongkuch turned from the help side to pin the attempt on the board.
Houston’s Tramon Mark secured the rebound, only to find his putback filled from behind by Nick Jourdain. The ball then bounced out of bounds with 1.3 seconds left.
The Cougars got a good shot on the ensuing inbound lob play, but Tramon Mark’s shot bounced off the rim over time, and the formerly 11-9 Owls delivered one of the biggest upsets of the season.
The defensive stand was fitting for a Temple team that held Houston to its third-lowest performance of the season. The Cougars shot just 33.9% from the field and saw only two players score in double digits. Shead led Houston with 13 points on a 4-of-16 effort from the field.
Houston returned the favor with his typically stifling defense that held Temple to 31.1% of shots from the field. But the Owls made up the difference at the free throw line, connecting on 20 of 22 (90.9%) attempts. Houston, meanwhile, shot 11 of 21 (52.4%) from the line.
Houston’s loss foreshadows a likely shakeup at the top of the polls after a week in which No. 2 Kansas lost twice. Purdue could return to the No. 1 spot after being knocked off the top line following a January 2 loss to Rutgers.