Houston remains No. 2 in AP Top 25 despite win vs. Temple, No. 1 Purdue's loss vs. Indiana

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
UH Cougars get back their win from Temple. Is that enough for No. 1?
The Houston Cougars men's basketball program climb from No. 3 to No. 2 in the AP Top 25. Purdue kept the top spot despite losing to Indiana.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If March Madness was won on polling respectability, the Houston Cougars would seem to fall short despite a 22-2 record with a month left before tournament time.

The Coogs did climb one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 in Monday's AP Top 25 men's basketball poll, but they couldn't unseat the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers, who lost just its second game of the season against in-state rival Indiana.

The Coogs, though, were poised to climb the charts with last week's second-ranked team, Tennessee, losing to Florida and then winning by just three against Auburn in the last week.

So what propelled the climb? UH defeated Wichita State and got back a win against Temple - both on the road. But, against Temple, which defeated Houston last month, the Coogs had to dig out of a four-point hole at halftime before pulling away in the second half.

Houston earned 22 of the 62 first-place votes in the AP poll, compared to Purdue's 38. The Coaches Poll was a lot closer, though, with No. 2 UH earning 13 votes to Purdue's 15.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson's squad enters the regular season stretch with seven games left. Houston has just a game against Tulsa on Wednesday for the next week, before heading up to Dallas against SMU on Feb. 16 and then hosting Memphis on Feb. 19. ABC13 sister networks ESPN2 and ESPN are airing the SMU and Memphis matchups, respectively.

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Freshman Jarace Walker may hold the keys to the Coogs' success come March. He has not scored below 15 points in his last four games, including 23 scored at Temple.

For that, Walker earned his sixth American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week for this season.

What's left for the Coogs?