Temple stifles, stuns No. 1 Houston with late defensive stand

Temple's Damian Dunn, left, celebrates as Houston's Jamal Shead, right, reacts at the end of Temple's 56-55 win over No. 1 Houston on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Temple's Damian Dunn, left, celebrates as Houston's Jamal Shead, right, reacts at the end of Temple's 56-55 win over No. 1 Houston on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

For a Houston team cruising through AAC play, Sunday was supposed to be a cakewalk at home.

Temple had other ideas. The Owls stifled the top-ranked Cougars from the opening tip and closed 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 remaining then turned back two Cougars layups in the game's final seconds. With the clock ticking below 10 seconds, Houston's All-AAC guard Jamal Shead attacked the basket for a go-ahead layup. Temple's Kur Jongkuch rotated from the help side to pin the attempt on the backboard.

Houston's Tramon Mark secured the rebound only to find his putback stuffed from behind by Nick Jourdain. The ball then bounced out of bounds with 1.3 seconds remaining.

The Cougars got a good look on the ensuing inbound lob play, but Tramon Mark's shot bounced off the rim as time expired, and the previously 11-9 Owls pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season.

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The defensive stand was fitting for a Temple team that held Houston to its third-lowest output of the season. The Cougars shot just 33.9% from the field and saw just two players score in double figures. Shead led Houston with 13 points on a 4-of-16 effort from the field.

Houston returned the favor with its typically smothering defense that held Temple to 31.1% shooting from the field. But the Owls made up the difference at the free throw line, where they connected on 20 of 22 (90.9%) attempts. Houston, meanwhile, shot 11 of 21 (52.4%) from the stripe. Dunn led the Temple effort with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

The loss by Houston is a precursor to a likely shakeup at the top of the polls after a week that saw No. 2 Kansas lose twice. Purdue could return to the No. 1 spot after being knocked off the top line following a Jan. 2 loss to Rutgers.