By Mary Cunningham

Temple season was on the upswing.

Especially considering how Fran Dunphy’s Owls had been playing much better since their three-point loss in Houston on Dec. 30.

Still, not even Houston coach Kelvin Sampson would have expected the Cougars to burst out of the gates by scoring the game’s first 15 points. They never let Temple have a whiff of making a comeback in a 80-59 rout that was not as close as the score indicates.

The loss left the Owls at 15-12 and in seventh place in the AAC, in which they are now 7-8.

The win boosts Houston (21-5, 11-3) in the American Athletic Conference standings, where they sit just one game behind Cincinnati, which lost again Sunday, this time to Wichita State.

It’s also further evidence that the Cougars might even deserve to be nationally ranked in both polls for the first time since Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon were playing for Guy Lewis’ Phi Slama Jama Cougars in 1984.

Houston hasn’t been ranked at all since 2005.

Instead, as Temple learned conclusively, it might be time for everyone else to start fearing them.