Kansas was tested Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse from start to finish, in part because Temple is no pushover and in part because the seniors for the Jayhawks struggled at times to deliver big plays.
But when the pressure rose and the threat of a loss hung over their heads, the veterans on sixth-ranked Kansas got the job done. The result was a 69-62 win.
Winning is all that matters, even if there are games where the score is a little too close for comfort.
Elijah Johnson came through with a couple of big layups, Kevin Young hit clutch free throws and the 3-pointer by Travis Releford was an absolute dagger.
Jeff Withey did his part as well by blocking nine shots. Those blocks were huge in a close game.
“Altogether we couldn’t do too much until the last few minutes of the game,” Withey said in a post-game press conference. “Crunch time, we played like we were supposed to.”
And really, that is all that matters, at least on Sunday against an Owls team that certainly has the potential to be a dangerous NCAA tournament team.
It was good for Kansas to play in a tight game like this and find a way to win. The Jayhawks will benefit from being challenged in the long run as their ultimate goal is to win a national championship.
And considering how crazy and unpredictable college basketball has become, the game against Temple is an example of the kind of games Kansas will need to win in March to be a champion.
“We played at a fairly high level the last month. I kind of felt we were due a game like this,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said in a post-game press conference. “To win a game against an NCAA tournament team where you had to make plays down the stretch, I think it was good for all of us.”
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.