The head coach of the Kelvin Sampson No. 1 Houston Cougars had been explicitly worried about his defense as of late. But even he couldn’t have expected what happened in UH’s Fertitta Center on Sunday. The Temple Owls, ranked 129th in the nation via KenPom, stunned the Coogs with a 56-55 win that serves as the biggest upset in college basketball this season.
Houston (18-2, 6-1 AAC) entered with a defense ranked No. 2 in the nation in terms of adjusted efficiency. They were able to lock in late and held the Owls without a field goal for the final 7:17 of the contest, but it was the inability to score themselves that caused the issue. Despite returning Jarace Walker from injury, UH was just 19-56 from the field, and 6-17 from three-point range.
Both teams combined to score just six points in the final six minutes, as Temple’s length in the front court gave the Cougars fits on what are usually made baskets at the rim.
A key stretch came with 10:09 to play, as a phantom foul on UH’s Marcus Sasser was awarded on a loose ball. Sampson protested to the point of getting a technical, and what should have been a turnover turned into a four-point possession for the Owls.
Temple (12-9, 6-2 AAC) was just 14-45 from the field themselves, but they competed on the glass with one of the best rebounding teams in America (39-33 Houston), and finished a whopping 20-22 from the free throw line. UH was just 11-21 from the charity stripe.
UH will look to get back on track Wednesday in Oviedo, Florida against the Central Florida Knights, but they will fall out of their No. 1 ranking in both the AP and Coaches Poll tomorrow morning. They’ll also likely relinquish their top-seed in the NET and KenPom as well.
Temple will look to keep it going in Tampa on Wednesday at South Florida.