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Temple looks to rebound from Cincinnati loss against No. 13 Houston

Temple is the only team to defeat the No. 13 Cougars.

J.P. Moorman dunking against Davidson in December.
J.P. Moorman dunking against Davidson in December.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Temple is coming off a demoralizing 72-68 loss to Cincinnati after which, among others, forward J.P. Moorman said the Bearcats were tougher than the Owls. That Cincinnati outrebounded Temple by 46-22, including 16-3 on the offensive glass, supports the comments of Moorman, who scored a career-high 20 points.

The Owls have no time to hang their heads because they will visit Houston in a key American Athletic Conference game Thursday night.

No. 13 Houston, which is ranked one spot ahead of Villanova, is 20-1 overall and 7-1 in the AAC, with the lone loss a 73-69 defeat at Temple on Jan. 9.

The Owls should have plenty of motivation to erase the performance from Sunday, when they led by as many as 14 points early in the second half.

“We can’t have the mental lapses we had the past couple of games,” Moorman said before Tuesday’s practice. “We know we are going in a tough environment and have to come to play.”

Temple (15-5, 5-2) has dropped two of its last three games, but the 6-foot-7 Moorman remains as confident as ever.

“As long as we start and the score is 0-0, I think we can win any game we step on the court,” he said.

He has a point. Temple has lost only one game by as many as 10 points, a 69-59 defeat at Villanova, when the Wildcats outscored the Owls by 26-12 over the final six minutes.

The Owls' win over Houston came down to the final second. With Temple leading by 71-69, Owls center Ernest Aflakpui took a charge on Corey Davis Jr. with 0.6 seconds left to preserve the win.

In that game, the Owls did a good job against the Houston guards, The Cougars top two scorers, guards Armoni Brooks and Davis, are averaging more than 14 points per game, but they combined for just 16 against Temple, shooting 6-for-23 from the field. Brooks really struggled, hitting just 2 of 12 and 1 of 7 from three-point range.

Cougars forward Breaon Brady picked up the slack with a season-high 19 points. The 6-8, 260-pound Brady was dominant inside, hitting 7 of 10 from the field.

"Brady is a really good player,” said Aflakpui, who had six points and seven rebounds against Houston but didn’t have a field-goal attempt against Cincinnati. “He always looks to wear you down and they have good shooters, so you can’t leave them open and help out down low.”

Temple has plenty of room for improvement in the rematch against the Cougars. The Owls' two leading scorers, Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose, shot a combined 9-for-34, including 3-for-16 from three-point range. The difference in that first game was that Temple went 25-for-28 from the foul line, and Houston was 11-for-17.