NCAA Men's Basketball

Temple to try to trip unbeaten No. 17 Houston

No. 17 Houston puts its perfect record on the line when the Cougars travel to Philadelphia to play conference foe Temple on Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center.

The Cougars are off to a 15-0 start and one of just three unbeaten teams in the nation, joining No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Virginia. They are 2-0 in American Athletic Conference action, coming off a 90-77 victory over Memphis on Sunday night.

Houston is 15-0 for the first time since the 1967-68 team led by Elvin Hayes.

Temple (11-3, 1-1) is off to its best start since the 2010-11 season and has yet to lose at home. The Owls have won four of their past five and are coming off a come-from-behind road victory over Wichita State in overtime on Sunday night. The Owls trailed by 13 at the half.

Meanwhile, Houston is playing its first road game since Dec. 8, a 10-point victory at Oklahoma State.

Temple has defeated at least one ranked opponent 11 years in a row, but it fell against its only ranked opponent so far this season, Villanova, on Dec. 6.

The Cougars will rely on their defense to stave off the upset bid and extend their winning streak to 16.

The Cougars are in top 10 nationally in multiple defensive categories, including opponents' field goal percentage (36.2, second), opponents' 3-point field goal percentage (26.4, fifth), and scoring defense (59.2 points per game, seventh).

At the offensive end, it's usually up to senior guard Corey Davis Jr. (15.5 ppg) and junior Armoni Brooks (14.9 ppg) to get the Cougars going, something that hasn't happened enough so far for Houston coach Kelvin Sampson.

"We haven't shot the ball well all year," Sampson said after the victory over Memphis.

"We haven't had a game yet where those two (Davis and Brooks) shot the ball well. Those two guys are kind of tag-teaming each other. We haven't had a game where we just shot the ball well, but other guys are getting better."

Though the Cougars cruised past Memphis by 13, four of Houston's wins have come by six points or fewer.

Temple is led by senior guard Shizz Alston Jr., who leads the team in scoring (19.4 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg). Alston scored 22 points -- including the final seven -- in Temple's 85-81 victory over Wichita State.

Sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis has scored 20 or more points in each of the past three games for Temple. He ranks third on the team with 13.2 points per game.

Temple can get after it on defense, too. The Owls rank 14th in the nation with 9.4 steals per game and have posted double-digit steals in nine of 14 games.

Brooks, who leads Houston with 7.3 rebounds per contest, is one of only three players to rank among the AAC's top 13 in scoring and rebounding.

Temple and Houston are meeting for the ninth time, with the Cougars holding a 6-2 lead in the series. Houston swept the Owls last season, including an 80-59 victory in Philadelphia.

Temple's last victory over the Cougars came nearly three years ago, a 69-66 victory in Houston.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 8, 2019