Vegas didn’t think the Owls had much of a chance. Temple was installed as a double digit dog as they made a trip to Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday. Three years ago, Kansas crushed the Owls at the their place and figured to do the same today. Problem was that Temple played nearly the perfect game and almost got the win.
What are the ingredients for an upset like this? Why do some teams fail miserably in attempts like this when the A-10 team nearly pulled it off? Let’s go a little deeper:
1) Officiating has to be on the level. Ask the many non-conference foes who have gone to Duke or Kansas how much of a fair whistle they got. Temple was able to shoot 26 free throws to Kansas’ 18 with a few of those coming at the end when they had to foul. The reason TU was able to beat Syracuse was because they made those shots while they missed six of them on Sunday. Jayhawks fans will disagree, but for the most part the whistle was fair.
2) Superstars must show up. Khalif Wyatt is the Owls superstar and he scored 26 points forcing Kansas to change their defense and put extra effort on him. Wyatt’s dominance of Syracuse was the reason why they won at MSG. Games like this are where the superstars are born.
3) The opponent’s star must fail. Jeff Withey tied his lowest point total of the season in this one putting up only eight points on 3-of-10 shooting. The center had the advantage on the inside, but missed way too many layups and chip shots. Kevin Young combated that putting up 16 in the win.
4) The supporting cast. This is where Temple lost the game. Wyatt, Anthony Lee and Will Cummings put up double digits for the Owls. The problem comes with Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson who shot a combined 1 for 16. These are guys who had plenty of chances to keep the Owls lead a little longer, but came up short.
So what do we make of this game? Certainly Temple deserves credit for their effort and they will be a factor in A-10 play. Kansas is going to be a factor in the Big 12, but the effusive praise for the Jayhawks needs to be tempered. They played a decent game and need to work on a lot in order to be national title contenders.