There was plenty of pre-game chatter warning Kansas to beware.
After all Temple had already dispatched of Villanova this season and
had yet to lose at home. Kansas seemed "ripe" for an upset in its first
true road game of the season. But you got the feeling that after KU
head coach Bill Self ripped into his team publicly for being "soft"
earlier in the week his squad would come into this one ready.
And ready they were.
The areas for concern just mere days ago suddenly became strengths for
Self criticized the defense after a 30-point win Tuesday against
Belmont and was baffled by the lack of rebounding and toughness after
out-rebounding a smaller, less athletic Belmont team by just one
It was definitely a different story today in Philadelphia in front of a
KU owned the boards (43-31) in this one and got a lot of those "extra
possessions" Self talked about earlier in the week. Plus the
defensive-minded coach watched as his team held Temple to just 25
percent shooting from the floor in the 84-52 romp.
"I thought that was the most in tune we've been defensively all year,"
said Self. "Fortunately for us Temple missed shots obviously but I
think we guarded them pretty good the first half."
"We had good looks at times and didn't make them, and if we're going to
win this game, we've got to make the open ones that we have," said
Temple head coach Fran Dunphy.
"Of course I think it's a statement win," senior Sherron Collins said.
"I think we were on the losing radar all day. We showed why we're the
No. 1 team in the country."
"I thought our guard play was excellent. Sherron (Collins) and Tyshawn
(Taylor) even though they didn't play a ton of minutes, I thought they
controlled the game defensively. Our guys were in tune and they were
ready to play today," Self concluded.
Defensively the Jayhawks were stingy and offensively it was a clinic.
Kansas was jumpstarted early by Collins who scored the first seven
points of the game.
"That's what you've gotta to do to get confidence on the road is have
your best players play well early," Self stated. "It takes the lid off
it for everybody else. When that happens it loosens everybody else up."
Sherron gave KU the early shot of confidence it needed and finished
with 14 points for the game. But it was the impressive 21-6 run the
Jayhawks closed the half with that opened this one up and gave the
nation's number one team control (40-23 at the half).
Kansas shot nearly 55 percent for the game against the nation's top
ranked defense. It was the first time this season Temple had given up
more than 70 points. Kansas was unstoppable in transition (19-3 fast
break points) and decimated the Owls in the paint scoring 42 points.
Self has made it a point to harp on this team getting the ball inside
more often and Saturday KU appeared to do it often and with ease.
"We've got good guards but we need to play inside out," Self continued.
"Our big guys are unselfish enough they'll share it enough. If they get
touches good things usually happen. One of my assistants told me at
halftime that we scored on 70 percent of the possessions where the bigs
got a touch inside. So much is predicated on getting the ball to the
paint and we did a good job either driving it there or passing it
You will hear coaches talk about the importance of being able to get a
hoop inside or get to the free throw line in a tightly contested road
game. The environment is usually hostile and the shooting percentages
tend to plummet for visiting team and skyrocket for the home team.
Being able to answer a run with an easy interior hoop promotes success
on the road and KU did that well in this one.
"Probably," Self answered when asked if it is more important to get the
ball inside on the road. "You don't bank on shooting 55
percent when you go on the road. It is probably more important to have
good possessions and know that you can get to the free throw line or
come away with something when the offense is kind of stale. We haven't
done a good job this year of getting it inside consistently but I
thought we got the ball in deep quite a bit today."
Temple needed to combat KU's size advantage, its staunch defense, and
its quality depth but the Owls were overwhelmed by all three. Outscored
in the paint 42-16, the Owls shot 29 threes and connected on just five,
and Self continued to run players in and out of the game at will
against Dunphy's Owls.
"We didn't play very well and we weren't the smartest team we've ever
had together," Dunphy said, "but they made shots when they had to and
they were relentless on the defensive end. ... They have talent and
depth and that's a tough combination."
"We've got depth and you guys can see that. We've got a lot of good
players. But today for the first time it didn't matter who was out
there. Whether Cole (10 points, 10 rebounds) wasn't out there, Sherron
(Collins) wasn't out there, Tyshawn (Taylor) wasn't out there. It
seemed like whoever was in there contributed and produced.
"I think that Temple played a lot of guys a lot of minutes and they may
have got a little fatigued. We were still pretty fresh because we
didn't have to play guys extended minutes like that."
Kansas will have many more road tests this season but if it relies on
the recipe for success shown today, there will be more lockerrooms as
happy as this one was for the crimson and blue.
"We haven't really been away from home and felt nervous going into a
game and certainly I think the success Temple has had thus far made us
feel that way which was good for us," said Self.
"This was an opportunity. I think our guys felt in our minds like our
season started today. Not that we haven't played tough games, but we've
played at home so this was good for us."
"They're right up there [with the best teams I've ever coached
against]," said Dunphy praising the Jayhawks. "They don't have any
weaknesses. They're good from the perimeter. They're tough inside.
They're long. They're very aggressive. They played like they're the No.
1 team in the country."
While the rest of the country talks about whether or not Texas or KU
deserves that number one ranking or who the best team is out of the
remaining undefeated teams, KU continues to just go about its business.
Self was asked after if there was a message being sent by this win and
he insists the Jayhawks are concerned about just one thing – "getting a
little better everyday."
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