Temple Struggles in Second Half, Falls to Houston

Written by: Rymir Vaughn

Photo by: Brian Mermelstein

Despite a strong first half and great performance from guard Khalif Battle, Temple men’s basketball (14-10, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) fell to No. 3 Houston Cougars (22-2, 10-1 AAC) 81-65 at a raucous Liacouras Center.

On the offensive end, Temple looked out of sync, starting the game going one-for-six from three and one-for-eight from the field.

After the first media timeout, the Owls began to work the ball into the paint and got more shots around the rim. 

Sophomore forward Jamille Reynolds sparked Temple’s offense with a big dunk that got the crowd involved. He then followed that up with a hook shot on the next possession.

Battle sparked a first half shooting clinic by the Owls, nailing a smooth stepback jumpshot that drew oh’s and ah’s from the crowd.

Following that shot, Temple went 8-10 from three for the rest of the half. The Owls didn’t attempt a field goal inside the three-point line during that stretch.

Defensively, the Owls made life tough for Houston in the first. Temple’s help defense, rotations, and switches were excuted well. The Owls were able to force seven turnovers and contest shots throughout the first half. 

Temple took a 37-33 lead into halftime. 

The second half, however, was a completely different story for the Owls.

Temple looked lifeless on both sides of the ball coming out of halftime. The Owls only converted on two field goals within the first nine minutes of the second half.

”We just had live-ball turnovers, and that doesn’t help your cause,” Temple head coach Aaron McKie said. “I don’t know if there was anything else I couldve done differently.” 

During that drought Houston, took the lead with a 13-0 run. 

The Owls committed seven of their 15 turnovers in the in the second half, which turned the tides of the matchup. 

“Turnovers. that’s really it.” Battle said. “That was the difference in the game.”

Temple could not match its defensive production from the first half in the second. Temple held Houston to only 33 points in the first half but gave up 48 in the second half. 


Houston forward and Pennsylvania native Jarace Walker was a consistent threat on both ends of the floor all game. Walker finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds and one assist. He also shot 66% from the field and 80% from three.

Anytime momentum seemed to swing Temple’s way, Walker had an answer.

For Temple, Battle was Temple’s sparkplug in the first half, hitting several contested three-point jumpers. Battle finished the game with 24 points.


Temple goes on the road to face Southern Methodist University at 8 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 8.  


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