Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: #3 Houston vs. Temple (2/5/2023) - Taking Vegas



Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: #3 Houston vs. Temple (2/5/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
February 5, 2023
Photo by: Unknow (Contact us for credit)

#3 Houston Cougars vs Temple Owls (2/5 @ 6:00 PM EST)

Spread: Houston -11.5
Money Line: Houston -645 / Temple +480
Total: 130.5

Overview and Betting Info

The #3 Houston Cougars (21-2) will head to Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls (14-9) in a battle for the AAC. They met two weeks ago, with Temple getting the road win in a 56-55 upset thriller. Houston leads Temple for the AAC lead by one game.

Houston is 14-9 against the spread this season and have covered seven of their nine road games. They’ve gone over the total 10 times but have gone under in three of their last five games.

Temple is 13-8 versus the spread and has covered four straight games. They’ve gone over the total ten times but have also been under in three of their last five.

Houston Cougars

The Cougars enter Saturday’s contest having won twelve of their last thirteen games, with the lone loss coming to Temple. It was a defensive slugfest where the teams combined to hit just 32.6% of their shots. Houston would return to form immediately after, winning their next three games and scoring over 70 in each. They are third in the AAC in scoring (79.8 PPG), second in field goal percentage (47%), and third in three-point percentage (35.7%). As good as the offense has been, their defense makes them one of the country’s top teams. They are third overall in opponent scoring (55.2 PPG), twenty-third in blocks (5.0), and ninth in turnover margin (4.9). They are a physical team that takes good shots and holds on to the ball, resulting in them being sixth in the country in turnovers (9.6 per game). Houston has not lost a road game this season.

The Cougars are led by Marcus Sasser (16.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.8 SPG) and Jarace Walker (11.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG). Both are fantastic defenders who combine for more steals than turnovers. Sasser is one of their top shooters, making 42% from the field and 38.3% from three. Temple was able to hold him to 12 points, but he did have four steals in the game. Walker’s scoring has exploded since his 9-point performance against Temple, averaging 19 points and making 56.4% of his shots in those three games. While he was held in check offensively by the Owls, he did have 12 rebounds, one block, and two steals.

Houston’s top duo has a ton of support from J’Wan Roberts (9.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.1 BPG), Jamal Shead (9.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 1.6 SPG), and Tramon Mark (9.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG). Walker was held in check offensively by Temple (8 points), but he’s been fantastic over their last five games. He’s averaging 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks during that span. He played just 18 minutes in their win earlier this week but still managed ten points and six rebounds. Shead has also been incredible over their last five games, averaging 13.4 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.0 steals). His passing has improved and boosted the offense, but he was held to just one assist against Temple. Mark has two blocks and three steals in their last two games, and he broke out of a scoring slump with 12 points in their previous game.

Temple Owls

Temple will be looking to win their fifth straight game as they welcome a Houston team they beat on the road two weeks ago. Though they are 7-2 in the AAC, Temple has some bad losses on their schedule. This worst came in a three-game skid with losses to Penn, Ole Miss, and Maryland-Eastern Shore. Their defense has been an issue, ranking seventh in the AAC in scoring (69.4 PPG), ninth in field goal percentage (42.1%), and eighth in three-point percentage (31.5%), assists (13.3 APG), and rebounds (35.9 RPG). Their defense is fifth in opponent scoring (68.1 PPG) but is last in steals (5.0). The Owls are 3-3 over their last six home games.

Temple is led by a pair of stars in Khalif Battle (17.7 PPG, 1.0 SPG) and Damian Dunn (14.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG). Battle is fourth in the conference in scoring but struggled against Houston in their first game, making just one of his nine shots. He immediately bounced back and now has 51 points and four steals in Temple’s last two games. Dunn is one of their best shooters, making 43.1% of his attempts from the field. He’s averaging 14.7 points over his last ten games but managed just eight against UCF the previous weekend. Dunn scored sixteen points against the Cougars but made 25% of his shots.

Jamille Reynolds (10.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 BPG) has been the perfect complement to the Owls’ top duo. The big forward returned from a significant injury last week but looked great against UCF with 16 points, five rebounds, and two blocks. Zach Hicks (8.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG) isn’t a reliable scorer, but he is making 35.8% of his threes this season. The forward made four of his eight threes against Houston for 12 points. Hysier Miller (8.4 PPG, 1.3 SPG) and Nick Jourdain (6.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG) also play a key role for the Owls. Miller is a streaky scorer, but his defense has been fantastic, with nine steals in his last four games. Jourdain is a presence down low and a top shot blocker, with eight blocks in their previous five games. Keep an eye on Jahlil White (5.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG), as the guard is averaging 7.8 rebounds over their last five games.

Free Pick: Over 130

While their first matchup was a low-scoring affair, that can be chalked up to several key Cougars having unusually poor shooting nights. We’ve seen the Cougars’ offense play too well to lay another egg against an average Temple team. We expect the Cougars’ offense to continue its hot run with another big night. Their loss to Temple cost them to be bumped from first in the AP rankings, and they will remember that on Sunday. Look for Walker in particular, to have a big night, as he has been on fire since Temple held him in check a couple of weeks ago.

On the other side, Temple will be coming in knowing how this Houston team can be beaten. Battle struggled in the first matchup but will have learned from it, so we expect him to improve greatly. Battle is an elite scorer when he’s on, which is happening more often than not. A packed house will boost them against an elite Cougars’ defense. We see them losing, but not from a lack of scoring.

We’re betting on a high-scoring game and taking the over.