Seniors contributing for No. 14 Houston entering matchup with Temple
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Even before No. 14 Houston lost a pair of valuable guards to season-ending injuries just prior to the start of American Athletic Conference play, the expectation was the Cougars would lean heavily on their seniors.
Without Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, Houston (25-4, 14-2 AAC) has excelled in large part because of the contributions of the four seniors who will be honored prior to the Cougars' home finale Thursday against the Temple Owls.
One of those seniors, forward Fabian White Jr., paired a career-high 28 points with 10 rebounds in a 71-53 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday that gave the Cougars their third regular-season American Athletic Conference title in four seasons.
"When you think about the accomplishments and the highs that we've had since we've been here, the growth that we've made, Fabian can tough (out) almost all of it," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said.
The three remaining players set to be honored on Senior Night all transferred into the Houston program: Josh Carlton, Kyler Edwards and Taze Moore.
Each has helped carry the Cougars at some point this season. Carlton is averaging 12.1 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds per game while Edwards is second in scoring (13.6 points) and assists (81). Moore (9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds) has plugged gaps with his athleticism and complemented the bruising play of Carlton and White (12.9 points, 6.0 rebounds) in the paint.
"Those three guys are kind of exactly what we thought they would be," Sampson said of the transfer trio. "They've filled the role through our evaluation and the lens that we look at. They've been exactly what we thought they would be and what we hoped they would be. They're playing the role that they were recruited to do."
The Owls (16-10, 9-6) defeated Tulane 75-70 on Sunday for their third win in four games, a triumph that kept them among the top four seeds in advance of the conference tournament.
The win marked another moment of growth for the Owls' freshmen, four of whom scored in double figures for Temple.
Redshirt freshman Damian Dunn scored a game-high 19 points while Zach Hicks added 15 points, Hysier Miller 10 and Jahlil White a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double. The dozen boards represented a career-high for White.
Including freshman guard Jeremiah Williams, who leads the Owls with 95 assists, Temple has come to rely on its youth, so much so that Owls coach Aaron McKie no longer considers that core freshmen.
There were rocky moments for sure against the Green Wave, but Temple has developed an ability to persevere that has served it well down the stretch of this season.
"We were able to survive 32 free-throw attempts," McKie said. "We were able to survive 21 turnovers. We pride ourselves on being disciplined and we just didn't play that way. We played that way in a few spurts to help us.
"It's basketball. It's that time of the year. Everybody is fighting and scratching and clawing trying to get wins."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2022