Entering Monday night’s game, many assumed that No. 10 Kansas would be able to easily get past Temple. But the Jayhawks felt like beginning winter break early as the Owls thoroughly dominated Kansas, 77-52, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Temple has struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor this season, as they entered Monday night ranking 340th (out of 351 Division I teams) in field goal percentage at 36 percent from the field. Offense certainly wasn’t an issue for the Owls on Monday, however, as they shot 58 percent from the field and got whatever look they wanted.
The Temple guard trio of Will Cummings (19 points), Quenton DeCosey (18 points) and Jesse Morgan (17 points) got in the lane and made plays nearly every time down the floor. They drove and finished at the rim, or kicked it out to an open shooter seemingly every possession. Kansas just didn’t seem very interested in defending or even trying to defend.
Monday marked the first time this season that Kansas started the duo of freshmen McDonald’s All-Americans Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, but the entire Jayhawk roster, minus point guard Frank Mason, didn’t appear interested in showing up against Temple. Mason finished with a team-high 17 points, and if he didn’t make two three-pointers at the end of the first half to cut the Temple halftime lead to 10, the game would have been a blowout even earlier. Perry Ellis finished 1-for-10 from the field and finished with five points while Wayne Selden Jr. was 2-for-8 and finished with six.
Kansas had loads of missed defensive assignments, sluggish off-ball movement and unfocused play. The Jayhawks offense struggled to produce consistent good looks as they shot 32 percent from the field and went 7-for-19 from the free-throw line on the night.
It looked like Kansas (9-2) had figured things out since they were embarrassed by Kentucky at the Champions Classic during the first week of the season, but this effort is definitely the new low point of the season for them. At least in the Kentucky game the Jayhawks continued to play hard. Against Temple, they folded and kept giving up easy buckets until the final minute.
When the going got tough, Kansas got going because this team is filled with soft players. Alexander, Selden and Mason are supposed to bring the toughness for this team, but if Alexander is lost on both ends and only shoots one field goal attempt and Selden is forcing things on offense, neither of them are effective players. Mason stepped up his play on Monday, but he resembles more of a complimentary player than the guy who was carrying the Jayhawk offense.
Temple (8-4) was badly beaten by crosstown rival Villanova by 23 points just eight days ago and the Owls looked like a completely new team because Kansas just didn’t show up or match their physicality. Even though the American Athletic Conference was 1-10 against ranked teams entering Monday night, you would have never known that based on how this game was played.
Kansas needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror before Big 12 play begins and figure out if they want to keep their conference title streak alive. This was a startling defeat and it exposed a lot of flaws with the Jayhawks on both ends of the floor. Kansas has plenty of talent and their frontcourt is deep, but both veterans and five-star freshmen alike need to step up and be accountable on both ends of the floor.
As for Temple, this is a huge confidence-building win. While Kansas not playing hard is major component of the Owls’ success on Monday night, Temple does deserve credit for having a sound, aggressive gameplan and they shared the ball well and made plays on both ends of the floor.
Even if Kansas had been more crisp, Temple would have stayed in this game because they were defending hard and making plays in passing lanes while taking smart shots. In the American, there doesn’t appear to be a major front-runner at this point in the season, so who knows if this is the type of win that gives Temple the confidence to compete for the league title? The Owls are now 6-0 at home this season and will be a tough out in their building either way.