Preview: Temple at Houston

Sun Feb 9, 2014 6:02am EST

Houston ends a brief two-game homestand that opened with a 77-62 loss to defending national champion Louisville when it hosts struggling Temple on Sunday afternoon in American Athletic Conference play. It's the first meeting between the two schools who will also play on March 1 in Philadelphia. Houston will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak while Temple has lost 10 of its last 11 games, including two in a row.

It's been a tough transition to the AAC from the Atlantic 10 for the rebuilding Owls, who lost four key players from a squad that went to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year and lost to Indiana, 58-52, in the Round of 32. Temple's first AAC Texas road swing started with a clunker on Thursday night, a 75-52 loss at Southern Methodist that saw the Owls shoot just 30.3 percent from the floor and score 23 points less than their season average. "It was more SMU's defense than anything else," coach Fran Dunphy told Philly.com.

TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPNews

ABOUT TEMPLE (6-15, 1-8 AAC): The Owls are the only team in Division I to have four players averaging 14 or more points per game. Guard Dalton Pepper (17.5) leads the team in scoring, which ranks fourth in the AAC, and is shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Guards Will Cummings (16.6), Quenton DeCosey (15.3) and forward Anthony Lee (14.2) are also averaging in double figures.

ABOUT HOUSTON (11-11, 3-6): The Cougars struggled offensively in their last outing against the Cardinals that was played in front of their largest home crowd (7,274) since 2008, many of whom were on hand to celebrate former head coach Guy V. Lewis' selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Houston went over six minutes without a field goal and fell behind by as many as 23 points in the second half before rallying to close to within nine points with seven minutes to go. "In the second half, we woke up," forward TaShawn Thomas, who leads the team in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (8.7), told the Houston Chronicle.

TIP-INS

1. Thomas has 34 career double-doubles, including nine this season.

2. Pepper, who had a career-high 33 points in a Jan. 26 loss against No. 7 Cincinnati, leads the AAC in 3-pointers made per game (2.9).

3. Houston freshman G Tyus Bowser has played in three games since joining the team after playing defensive end on the Cougars football team, where he compiled 26 tackles and had five sacks.

PREDICTION: Houston 84, Temple 79

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