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‘We had a bad day’: No. 1 Houston falls to Temple



HOUSTON — Damian Dunn scored 16 points and made the go-ahead free throw, and Kur Jongkuch blocked Houston’s go-ahead attempt in the final seconds, as Temple held on to defeat the top-ranked Cougars 56-55 on Sunday, adding to a weekend of upsets.

Coupled with No. 2 Kansas’ loss Saturday to TCU, Houston’s defeat marked the first time in AP poll history that both of the top two teams lost at home in a two-day span, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Temple improved to 3-18 against No. 1-ranked teams. The Owls (12-9, 6-2 American Athletic Conference) earned their first win over a No. 1-ranked team since a 77-69 victory at No. 1 Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 2000.

Houston was a 19-point favorite, making Temple’s victory the largest upset over an AP No. 1 team since Stephen F. Austin defeated No. 1 Duke as a 27.5-point underdog on Nov. 26, 2019, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“We had a bad day, but we still have a good team,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “All of our dreams and goals are still ahead of us.”

Tied at 55, Dunn made a free throw with 1 minute, 6 seconds left to give Temple a one-point lead. Jamal Shead missed a 3-pointer and Nick Jourdain grabbed the rebound. Dunn missed a layup with eight seconds left and Jongkuch grabbed the rebound, but the Owls were whistled for a shot-clock violation upon review.

Trailing by one, Shead drove to the basket, but Jongkuch blocked it out of the bounds with 1.3 seconds left. Tramon Mark‘s tip-in attempt, on a designed play from Sampson, fell short at the buzzer to give the Owls the win.

“You’re not going to get a better one than that,” Sampson said. “I thought the execution was great. Just missed the shot.”

Temple coach Aaron Mckie agreed.

“My heart was pounding,” he said. “They ran a really good play. They got a good look at it and missed it. And we win the game.”

Zach Hicks added 12 points for Temple, which snapped a six-game losing streak to Houston. The Owls shot 31% but were 20-of-22 from the free throw line.

Shead scored 13 points, and Marcus Sasser added 12 points for Houston (18-2, 6-1), which saw its nine-game winning streak snapped.

Houston shot 34% but was 11-of-21 from the free throw line.

“We just never could make the big play,” Sampson said. “We needed the big shot.”

Tied at 47, Temple used an 8-1 spurt to open up a 55-48 lead on two free throws by Jourdain with 6½ minutes remaining. Houston responded with a 7-0 run to tie it at 55.

Overall, there were plenty of rarities for the Cougars. With the game tied 30-30 at the half, it marked the first time this season Houston had not led at the break. And Sampson was issued a technical foul in the second half for arguing a foul call.

“The only finger that should be pointed is at me,” Sampson said, summing up the day. “I’m the coach.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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