Kansas shakes off Temple for 11th consecutive win

The SportsXchange

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- No. 6 Kansas wanted a stern tune-up before entering Big 12 play.

Temple delivered on that score.

The Owls, out of the Atlantic 10, led going into the final three minutes before the Jayhawks took over down the stretch for a 69-62 victory in Allen Fieldhouse.

"That felt like a tournament game," said Kansas senior center Jeff Withey, who finished with eight points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks. "(Temple) is a really good team. We didn't shoot the ball that well, and in the (NCAA) tournament, it feels like that a lot of the time. It comes down to the last four minutes, and tonight, we overcame it."

One of the biggest plays was the lone steal the Jayhawks managed.

Freshman guard Ben McLemore broke on a pass around midcourt, then flew downcourt for a breakaway jam with 2:50 left to give Kansas (12-1) the lead for good, 58-57. The turnover was one of just four committed by Temple (10-3).

The Owls were bidding for their second upset over a top-10 opponent after stunning Syracuse on Dec. 23 in New York.

Temple senior guard Khalif Wyatt triggered that surprising win over with 33 points, and he again ignited the upset bid against Kansas. He poured in a game-high 26 points, including 11 straight during one stretch early in the second half as the Owls bolted to a four-point lead after trailing by as many as 12.

The Jayhawks, however, showed enough composure late to win their last nonconference game and earn their 11th consecutive victory. They begin their bid for a ninth consecutive Big 12 championship with a home game Wednesday against Iowa State.

"You have to win some games where you're not your best. This was certainly one of those games," said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team began a stretch of four games in nine days. "Our turnovers (14) in large part, led to baskets. I was disappointed in that. Nobody was terrific, but we made plays and hung together."

Kansas senior Kevin Young posted his first double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) after arriving as a transfer from Loyola Marymount. A .563 free-throw shooter, Young made both ends of one-and-ones with 4:21 and 2:23 to play. Travis Releford added a clutch 3-pointer with 35 seconds left following McLemore's converted steal.

Releford added 14 points and McLemore 13. Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson added nine points and nine assists. He also made a couple of key buckets off drives to spark the Jayhawks' rally.

"I felt urgency. Everybody was sagging off their guy, waiting for us to go to Jeff (inside)," Johnson said. "Jeff was tired, and it was late in the game, so I've got to do something. I decided to put on the pressure."

Temple controlled tempo throughout the first half. In the process, Kansas often rushed shots while committing seven turnovers against just two for the Owls, who shot just 32.4 percent (19-for-63) for the game.

"We managed the game about as good as we could for a long stretch," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "When we had a four-point lead, we quick-shot it twice, and that led to them tying the score. Then they made some big plays at the end."

The Jayhawks led 33-27 at halftime behind eight points from Young.

Anthony Lee and Will Cummings added 11 points apiece for Temple, which begins Atlantic 10 play Thursday at Xavier.

The Owls missed all but two of their last nine shots before halftime while getting nine first-half points from Wyatt. Temple shot just 32.4 percent in the first half and also stayed within striking distance after getting outrebounded, 26-16.

For the game, the Jayhawks outrebounded the Owls 46-32.

NOTES: Kansas extended its home-court winning streak to 30 with its 63rd consecutive home win against a nonconference opponent. ... Temple was bidding to beat two top-10 teams in the same season for the first time since 1998-99. ... Wyatt has connected on 30 consecutive free throws. ... Withey narrowly missed out on his second triple-double of the season. He had a season-high 12 blocks against San Jose State. ... Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe ended a stretch of four games without a turnover by committing two. He had 22 assists against no turnovers in the previous four games. He had one assist Sunday.
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