COVID-delayed Temple opens AAC play at No. 6 Houston

NCAA

Sixth-ranked Houston will look to improve to 6-0 against visiting Temple in the teams’ American Athletic Conference opener on Tuesday.

But it’s unclear exactly how many Cougars will be able to compete considering all 15 players on the roster have tested positive for COVID-19 at some point this season, coach Kelvin Sampson said.

“When you test, you’re at the mercy of the results of the test,” Sampson said after an 88-55 win over Alcorn State on Sunday, which was the Cougars’ first game in more than two weeks.

“We’ll test tomorrow, which is Monday and play Tuesday. You ask me how do I feel about it. Well, ask me when the results get back in because that’s really the only thing you can judge your thoughts on or how you feel is the results of the test,” the coach continued. “We don’t know whether we are going to have some of our guys, most of them or just a few of them.”

Houston had no trouble against Alcorn State to open a stretch in which it will play four games during a 10-day span.

Quentin Grimes had a season-high 27 points and a career-best 10 rebounds while Reggie Chaney added a career-high 18 points against the Braves (0-2).

Houston had only nine players available in its first game in two weeks after pausing team activities following a COVID-19 outbreak. The Cougars were without sophomore guards Caleb Mills — the preseason AAC Player of the Year — and Marcus Sasser but rode Chaney, Grimes and freshman Jamal Shead, who chipped in 10 points and three assists. Justin Gorham grabbed 16 rebounds for the Cougars.

Temple (1-0) also has been dealing with COVID-19 issues. On Nov. 26, the school announced it was “pausing activity with its men’s basketball team due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program. The team will follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC, City of Philadelphia and the NCAA and begin a 14-day quarantine. The individual who tested positive will be in isolation for 10 days.”

Temple, behind 12 points and 14 rebounds from De’Vondre Perry, opened its season on Saturday with a 72-60 win over the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Damian Dunn had 18 points and seven rebounds and Jeremiah Williams had 11 points, four assists and four rebounds, as he became the Owls’ first freshman guard to start a season-opener since Mardy Collins in 2002.

“I was pretty impressed with both of those guys,” Temple coach Aaron McKie said of Dunn and Williams. “We have thrown a lot at Jeremiah Williams.”

–Field Level Media

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