In its last game before taking a few days off to celebrate Christmas, tenth-ranked Kansas played as if it was already thinking ahead to its holiday dinner.
Temple embarrassed the listless Jayhawks 77-52 on Monday night, a baffling outcome considering the way both teams had been playing leading up to the game.
Kansas appeared to have made strides since its opening-week loss to Kentucky, reeling off eight straight wins against the likes of Utah, Michigan State, Florida and Georgetown. Temple still seemed to be in rebuilding mode after last year's 22-loss season, having fallen to middling Saint Joseph's and UNLV and been blown out by Duke and Villanova.
What changed Monday night was that Temple played its most inspired offensive game of the season and Kansas regressed in all facets.
Temple entered Monday's game shooting 36.9 percent from the field as a team, but the Owls looked far more potent with UMass transfer Jesse Morgan providing another perimeter weapon in support of Will Cummings and Quentin DeCosey. Those three spearheaded a Temple attack that shot 58.3 percent from the field, combining for 54 points and torching the more heralded Kansas guards off the dribble time and time again.
Keeping up wouldn't have been easy for Kansas under any circumstances since the Jayhawks haven't been as explosive as usual offensively so far this season. It became even more difficult Monday night when Kansas ran sloppy offense, failed to generate any points from its defense and committed 17 turnovers.
Perry Ellis offered little in the way of leadership or production, finishing with five points and three rebounds on 1 of 10 shooting. Wayne Selden was just as much of a ghost, providing a quiet six points on 2-for-8 shooting. All those vaunted freshmen weren't any better either as Cliff Alexander missed the only shot he attempted and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk finished with more turnovers (3) than baskets (1).
The lack of offense from anyone besides point guard Frank Mason led to Kansas falling behind by 10 at halftime and seldom cutting the lead to single digits thereafter. The Jayhawks suffered only their third loss by 25 or more points of the Bill Self era and their first by this many points against an unranked opponent since 1978.
Kansas is a much better team than it showed Monday night, but the Temple loss was a reminder that the Jayhawks aren't good enough to survive lapses in concentration.
To be good, they need Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden and the other returners to play with consistency and focus night in and night out. To be great, they need Alexander, Mykhailiuk and fellow freshmen Kelly Oubre to start playing to their immense potential.
None of that happened Monday, which is why Kansas suffered its worst loss since a stunning upset at the hands of hapless TCU in Feb. 2013.
When perennial juggernaut Jayhawks lost that night, Self called it the program's worst performance since the Topeka YMCA beat Kansas way back in the James Naismith era.
The way the Jayhawks played against Temple 22 months later, Topeka YMCA might have posed a threat Monday night too.
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