By Matt Tait.
Unlike so many games before it in which the Jayhawks drubbed good opponents at Allen Fieldhouse, Sunday's 69-62 victory against Temple was a dog fight from start to finish.
The Jayhawks built a lead of as many as 11 points in the first half but Temple refused to go away and actually spent several minutes in the second half playing with the lead.
But when the game was on the line, KU seniors Kevin Young and Jeff Withey came up big on both ends of the floor. Travis Releford, who sat for most of the second half with four fouls and eventually fouled out, also buried a three-pointer that put KU up seven with just over a minute to play.
Withey finished with eight points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks, and Young chipped in with another high-energy, high-output game, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds to push the Jayhawks to 12-1 on the season.
Temple turned the ball over just three times and was led by 26 points from Khalif Wyatt, who tallied 17 of those in the second half, including 11 straight at one point.
Here's a quick look back at some of the action.
The game turned when: KU senior and designated defensive stopper Travis Releford picked up his fourth foul at the 15:32 mark of the second half. With Releford on the bench, Temple took control, but the Jayhawks overcame Releford's absence and earned the hard-fought victory in the final minutes with the senior starter back on the floor.
Offensive highlight: With Temple leading by three and KU struggling on the offensive end, Elijah Johnson fired a high pass to Ben McLemore, who got a nice back screen from Kevin Young and rose high above Temple's Anthony Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson to throw down the alley-oop and pull the Jayhawks to within one point, 46-45, with 11:49 to play.
Defensive highlight: Although Ben McLemore's first-half blocked shot, which he caught with both forearms, might have been the most athletic defensive play, it was the red-shirt freshman's steal and two-handed, double-pump dunk that put the Jayhawks ahead 58-57 with 2:45 to play that seemed to be the most significant defensive play of the day for Kansas.
Key stat: Turnovers. The Owls committed just four turnovers the entire game (including just two in the second half), and the Jayhawks gave the ball away 14 times.
Up next: The Jayhawks will kick off the Big 12 portion of their schedule Wednesday when they take on Iowa State at 6 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU with a strong closeout to take the victory.
Releford makes both.
Withey up to eight points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks.