Houston, TX — Damian Dunn poured in 16 points and made the go-ahead free throw, forward Kur Jongkurch blocked Houston’s go-ahead shot in the waning seconds of the contest and Temple held on to beat the top-ranked Cougars (18-2, 6-1 AAC) 56-55 on Sunday at the Fertitta Center.
Zach Hicks, also chipped in 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.
Down by one, guard Jamal Shead drove into the lane but Jongkuch blocked it out of the bounds with 1.3 seconds left on the clock. Tramon Mark’s tip-in attempt fell short at the buzzer to give Temple the victory.
“Any time you get the opportunity to beat the No. 1 team in the nation on their home floor, it was a great atmosphere and a really good win for our guys,” Aaron McKie said.
The Owls improved to 3-18 against No. 1 ranked teams. Temple (12-9, 6-2 American Athletic Conference) earned their first win over a No. 1 ranked team since a 77-69 win at No. 1 Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 2000.
Temple scored six straight buckets in a 10-2 run to take their largest lead of the half, 18-12, on two Dunn free throws with just over 10 minutes on the clock.
Temple coach McKie got soaked when he entered his team’s locker room following the Owls’ win over No. 1 Houston.
“It was a cold celebration for me because the guys threw a lot of cold water on me, so it was pretty good,” McKie said. “It’s just always fun to see guys just so excited about a win and just enjoying this game of basketball.”
Houston settled down and got up by three, 30-27, on a Shead bucket before Dunn hit a deep trey for the final points of the half.
In the second half, both teams went back and forth for about ten minutes of play. The Owls scored six straight, a three-point play by Nick Jourdain and a three by Hicks, to extend the lead to 53-47.
With the game knotted at 55, Dunn made a free throw with 1:06 left to give the Owls a one-point lead. Shead missed a 3-pointer and Jourdain snatched the rebound of the cylinder. Dunn missed a layup with eight seconds left, and Jongkuch grabbed the rebound, but Temple were whistled for a shot clock violation upon review.
“I was trying to attack the rim,” Dunn said. “I was not really searching for (a call), but was trying to be aggressive and go downhill and putting the pressure on the referee.”
Jamal Shead lead Houston with 13 points.
Houston inbounded but a final shot by Mark hit the front of the rim and bounced off to preserve the Owls upset win.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said, “the execution on the plays were good at the end, but they just missed the shots.”
The Cougars, who averages 76.2 points per game, was held to under 60 points for just the third time this season.
> Temple hosts South Florida on Wednesday night (7 pm/ESPN+/1210 AM WPHT).
Houston will travel to play UCF on Wednesday for 7:00 P.M. start.