By Sarah Paley

Jarace Walker scored 23 points, Marcus Sasser had 13 and No. 3 Houston got payback from Temple with an 81-65 win.

The Owls failed in their bid for a second upset after they toppled the Cougars from No. 1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll with a 56-55 win last month in Houston.

The Cougars (22-2, 10-1 American Athletic Conference) are now poised to regain the top spot in the AP poll after a dominant second half in Philly. No. 1 Purdue lost to Indiana and No. 2 Tennessee lost to Florida, leaving an opening for Houston to ascend to No. 1 on Monday.

Khalif Battle led Temple (14-10, 8-3) with 24 points.

Temple has traditionally struggled to draw a full house at Liacouras Center, even for games that include city rivals or Top 25 teams or in seasons full of NCAA Tournament promise. The arena was packed Sunday, and Owls students swayed behind the basket from the opening tip. There was a T-shirt “white out” that put some needed school spirit on display.

Temple gave fans plenty of reason to cheer with nine 3-pointers in the first half. Battle hit a 3 for a 26-25 lead, Zach Hicks hit one for a three-point lead and Damian Dunn buried one that sent the Owls into halftime ahead 37-33.

“You never know when you’ll get a crowd like that again,” Battle said.LIKELY

Unlike the first game, the Owls couldn’t take it to the wire. Houston trailed at halftime for only the third time this season before it rallied to win for the 13th time in 14 games. The Temple loss was the only one in that streak.

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