Strong Second Half By the Houston Cougars Grounds the Owls

Houston Wins the Second Half by 20 in 81 – 85 Win Over Temple


The ingredients were there. A sellout crowd for White Out Night. Electric atmosphere in the building for a game on national television. The Temple Owls took a halftime lead. The belief was there that the Cherry and White would take down the #3 Houston Cougars for a second time this season.

But the shots that were falling in the first half for Temple did not in the latter twenty minutes. And Houston made them pay for the turnovers. The final score was 81 – 65 in favor of the Cougars.

“When the ball is going in for us, like most people, when good things happen you get excited,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie. “You get energy. When that didn’t happen for us in the second half, we just couldn’t find a way to get out of our own way.”

The Tide Turned in the Second Half

At intermission Temple led 37 – 33 by shooting 48.1% and 9 pf 17 from three-point land. And the Owls were winning the battle of the boards.

The Cougars began the second stanza scoring the first 13 points in four minutes of play. The Owls fought back and cut the deficit to 53 – 48 on a three-pointer by Damian Dunn with 9:14 on the clock. The momentum reversed on the next possession when Houston forward Jarace Walker hit a three-ball. It stopped Temple.

“It was a contested shot, a tough shot, he made it,” McKie said. “He gave those guys life. We felt if we could keep our defense in front of them, we’ll give ourselves a pretty good shot. But they got loose on us. We had some turnovers, and that gives teams juice. It’s hard to bounce back from that.”

What the Numbers Say

Houston reversed the tide of the game by making 18 of 25 shots in the second half (72%) and hit 4 of 7 from distance. They got it by getting to the basket, and made half of their shots inside the arc. Walker led the team with 23 points hitting 8 of 12 from the floor and 4 of 5 from behind the line. Jamal Shead, Marcus Sasser, and J’Wan Roberts also posted double-figures scoring. Shead dished out a game-high 7 assists. Walker pulled down 6 rebounds.

Khalif Battle headed the Owls in scoring with a game-high 24 points, sinking 6 of 12 from the floor, 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. Many of his shots were acrobatic which befuddled Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson.

“Those were ridiculously hard shots,” Sampson said about Battle’s buckets. “Who practices those shots? Might be somebody in horse. Those aren’t normal shots, but give him credit. He was making them.”

Zach Hicks and Jamille Reynolds added 11 points apiece. Both equaled their number of rebounds with 6.

Teams Have a Win Against Each Other

Temple (14 – 10, 8 – 3) won at Houston, Houston (22- 2, 10 – 1) won at Temple. Will they meet again this season? Time will tell.

“They’re a good team, but I feel we are just as good,” said Battle.

From the Houston point of view, it is simpler.

“They beat us, today we beat them,” said Sampson.

The Cougars should move up to Number One in the next poll.

Remember this as quite a night at the Liacouras Center

“It was an emotional time for me to see energy in the building,” McKie shared. “The excitement around the game, it was pretty cool to see. I never played in front of a crowd that big. I hope our guys enjoyed it. We didn’t get the result that I was looking for, we were looking for, but it is something to continue to work for.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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