After proving to be not nearly as good as the top team in the country, Temple now focuses on its quest to be No. 1 in the Atlantic 10 again.
The 21st-ranked Owls look to recover from their most lopsided loss in nearly 17 years as they kick off conference play Wednesday night, hosting city rival Saint Joseph’s.
Temple (11-3) is playing at the Liacouras Center for the second consecutive game, but this one might feel more like a home game than the one Saturday against top-ranked Kansas.
There were at least as many Jayhawks fans as Owls fans on hand for a game that was never close after the opening minutes. Kansas rolled to an 84-52 victory, dealing Temple its worst loss since a 106-69 defeat to Wake Forest on Feb. 7, 1993.
“This is definitely a wake-up call for us, something we needed,” said guard Ryan Brooks, held to 11 points after averaging 20.5 in the previous four games.
It was the first time an opponent scored more than 70 against Temple, still among the nation’s leaders in points allowed at 56.4 per game. The Owls had entered the game holding teams to 36.4 percent shooting from the field, but Kansas finished at 54.5 percent as its big men controlled the paint.
“We didn’t play very well and we weren’t the smartest team we’ve ever had together,” coach Fran Dunphy said.
Dunphy led Temple to a win over Saint Joseph’s in the 2008 conference tournament title game, and the Owls knocked off the Hawks in the first round en route to last season’s championship.
Temple finished both of those regular seasons in second place in the A-10, but now enters conference play as the league’s only ranked team.
Three-point shooting could play a key role in how well the Owls do. They were 5 of 29 from beyond the arc Saturday and have shot 16.7 percent in three losses, compared to 36.3 percent in 11 victories.
Juan Fernandez, averaging 14.1 points and shooting a team-best 42.9 percent from 3-point range, went 3 of 16 from the floor for 11 points against Kansas.
He was 1 of 8 on 3-point tries, a far cry from his 7-for-9 effort Dec. 13 as Temple made 11 for 22 in a 75-65 win over then-No. 3 Villanova - one of two opponents both the Owls and Hawks have played.
Saint Joseph’s lost 97-89 to the Wildcats four days earlier and fell 92-75 at Siena on Dec. 29, a team Temple beat 73-69 on Nov. 21.
The Hawks (4-8) followed the Siena loss with a 70-62 defeat to Princeton on Saturday for their eighth loss in nine games. They’re giving up a conference-high 78.2 points per game.
“I just told the players that I hope that that’s the bottom and now we’ve got to bounce back because it’s the Atlantic 10, here it comes,” coach Phil Martelli told the school’s official Web site.
Guard Darrin Govens averages 12.7 points to lead the Hawks, who have lost the last five meetings with Temple after winning 12 of 13.