The Temple men's basketball team lost to No. 2 Duke in North Jersey and defeated No. 3 Syracuse in…
Not This Time
The Temple men's basketball team nearly stunned its second top-10 team in a span of 15 days before falling short, 69-62, at No. 6 Kansas on Sunday afternoon.
The Owls (10-3) led by as many as four in the second half and had the lead with under three minutes to play. But Ben McLemore's steal and dunk put Kansas (12-1) ahead, 58-57, with 2:42 remaining and the Jayhawks finished the game on a 16-5 run to come away with a victory.
"We managed the game as well as we could for a long, long stretch," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "We had some looks, couldn't get them to go down, but I'm proud of our guys.
"I don't see any weaknesses (in Kansas). I'd like to think we played well, though we didn't shoot it well."
The turnover was just the third of the game for the Owls, playing in one of the toughest environments in college basketball. Will Cummings' three-pointer put Temple ahead, 57-54, with five minutes to play but they didn't score their next bucket until Khalif Wyatt scored on a layup with 25 seconds remaining.
"We played good, they made some runs, we made some runs and it came down to the last three or four minutes," said Wyatt, who finished with 26 points. "We made some bad decisions and they just capitalized."
One of those bad decisions was Wyatt shooting a quick three-pointer at the 6:19 mark just six seconds into the shot clock as he tried to push Temple's lead, which stood at 54-50, to seven points.
Elijah Johnson hit a layup, Scootie Randall missed a three, and Johnson laid it in on the other side to tie the game.
"It was a quick shot and I missed it," admitted Wyatt. "It's one of those, you make it and everyone's happy. You miss it, it's a bad shot. I took it, I'm a shot taker, and it was a turning point in the game."
Asked if he would take the same shot again, Wyatt didn't hesitate.
"Every time," he said.
The Owls final chance came down two points with 1:30 to go when Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson took an awkward-looking shot in the lane. Kansas came down with the rebound and Kevin Young – shooting under 60 percent on free throws – knocked down two (and 6-of-6 overall) as the Jayhawks put the game out of reach.
Young had 16 points and 10 rebounds and 7-footer Jeff Withey finished with eight points on 3-of-10 shooting, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
"(Withey) was pretty tough, but it was a good challenge for me," said 6-9 Temple center Anthony Lee. "I thought I played pretty good defense (on him). We didn't come out with the win but it was a good experience."
Lee and Cummings both scored 11 points, but many Owls struggled. Randall shot just 1-of-7 from the field on the way to eight points, Hollis-Jefferson was 0-for-9 with two points and top sub Jake O'Brien scored just one point.
It was the 30th straight win for the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse and the 63rd in a row against a non-conference foe. Those streaks were in serious jeopardy Sunday after the Owls rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to grab the lead.
"I'm proud of my guys, they didn't let the stage get the best of them," said Wyatt. "It was a loud crowd, and we only had (four) turnovers. They go crazy when they score a layup. We've played in some big atmospheres already and have some experienced guys. We managed the game and took care of the ball. This is what you play for, but we didn't take advantage of it.
"It was still a great college basketball game. We showed some toughness. They made their run and the crowd got behind them, but we composed ourselves and were able to hang around. We had a lead at the end and a chance to win a game."
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