HOUSTON (AP) — Temple coach Aaron McKie got a wet welcome into his team’s locker room following the Owls’ win over No. 1 Houston.
He didn’t mind.
Damian Dunn scored 16 points and made the go-ahead free throw, Kur Jongkuch blocked Houston’s go-ahead attempt in the final seconds and Temple held on to defeat the top-ranked Cougars 56-55 on Sunday.
“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.”
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 win at No. 1 Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 2000.
“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,” McKie said.
Tied at 55, Dunn made a free throw with 1:06 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 8 seconds left, and Jongkuch grabbed the rebound, but the Owls 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.”
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 fell short at the buzzer to give the Owls the win.
Dunn said Jongkuch “really won the game for us.”
“I saw my teammate get beat, and I’m like ‘We have to do something’ because at that (point), all bets are off, so I just went up and got the block,” Jongkuch said.
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.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said the execution on the plays were good at the end, but they just missed the shots.
Shead scored 13 points, and Marcus Sasser added 12 points for Houston (18-2, 6-1), which saw its nine-game winning streak snapped.
“We could never make the big play,” Sampson said. “We needed a big shot. We’ve made (big shots) dozens and dozens of times over the years where maybe we didn’t have a very good offensive night, but we still found a way to win.”
Houston shot 34% but were 11 of 21 from the free throw line.
“It’s frustrating for sure,” Sampson said of the missed free throws. “As a team, when you start missing like that, especially some of our younger guys, you start pressing probably. Free throws can get mental like anything else. … It’s not a fair fight when one team goes 20 for 22 and the other goes 11 for 21.”
Temple: The Owls improved to 2-0 this season against ranked opponents. … Temple did not make a field goal of the final 7:18 and were 5 of 21 from the field in the second half. … The Owls had 11 assists on 14 field goals.
Houston: With the game tied at the half at 30 apiece, it marked the first time this season the Cougars have not led at the half. … Sampson was issued a technical foul in the second half for arguing a foul call. … Houston outrebounded Temple 39-33.
ASTROS IN THE HOUSE
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, third base coach Gary Pettis and closer Ryan Pressly sat courtside for the game.
Temple: Hosts South Florida on Wednesday.
Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday.