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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Allen Fieldhouse was filled to the rafters, the sound was deafening and Temple was hanging tough. The Owls had committed only two turnovers the entire game, and were in front of No. 6 Kansas in the closing minutes.
Their third turnover helped cost them the game.
Ben McLemore stepped in front of a pass from the Owls' Anthony Lee and went the other way for a dunk that gave Kansas the lead with 2:42 remaining, and the reigning Big 12 champions held on for a 69-62 victory Sunday.
"That was unfortunate, that play," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of the turnover near mid-court. "I'll be anxious to see it on film and see what we did."
Temple (10-3) was poised for its second top-10 upset of the season before withering in crunch time.
"Stage like this, this is what you play for," said Khalif Wyatt, who led the Owls with 26 points. "We didn't take advantage of it, but it was just a great atmosphere."
Kevin Young had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas. Travis Releford added 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting, including a key 3-pointer from the wing with 34.9 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down, Releford's basket gave Kansas a 65-58 lead.
McLemore added 13 points and Jeff Withey had eight points, 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Jayhawks (12-1), who have won 30 consecutive games at Allen Fieldhouse and 63 in a row at home against non-conference opponents.
"Thought we managed the game about as well as we could for a long, long stretch," Dunphy said. "We quick-shot a couple balls late in the second half, and that led to them trying to score, and then they made a couple big plays at the end."
Anthony Lee and Will Cummings had 11 points apiece for Temple, which seemed to have the recipe for winning in the Phog down pat. The Owls only committed four turnovers — though the third one proved critical — and prevented the high-flying Jayhawks from getting in transition.
"I thought it would be a game like this," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I thought it would be a game we'd have to play the entire 40 minutes to win."
The Jayhawks raced out to a 22-10 lead by the midway point of the first half, clamping down with their intense man-to-man defense and throwing in some token press.
Dunphy eventually got a veteran group that starts three seniors to settle down, and the result was an 8-1 spurt that got the Owls right back in the game.
Wyatt led the charge by banking in a 3-pointer, and a basket by Lee — who had eight points and five boards by halftime — forced Self to call a timeout.
Self was only starting to simmer, though. He really boiled over a few minutes later, when Elijah Johnson committed his third turnover of the half. The coach slapped his hand against the video marquee at the scorer's table so hard that it knocked out a bank of lights.
Kansas scored the first five points of the second half to push its lead to 38-27, but then Temple scored on its next nine possessions. Along the way, Wyatt outscored the Jayhawks 11-2 by himself, and his free throws with 14:13 left gave the Owls their first lead at 44-43.
"We showed some toughness," said Wyatt, who had 33 points in an upset of then-No. 3 Syracuse on Dec. 22. "We knew they were going to make runs, knew they're crowd would get behind them, but every time they made a run, we made a run."
Releford, the Jayhawks' top defender, also picked up his fourth foul during the Owls' run and spent much of the second half on the bench. That allowed Temple's talented backcourt to keep answering every time that Kansas tried to make a charge.
Releford eventually checked back into the game, and the Jayhawks picked it up on defense.
After pulling ahead 54-50, the Owls failed to score on five of their next six possessions, and Johnson's two drives to the basket tied the game. Moments later, McLemore stepped in front of a pass from the Owls' Cummings and went the other way for a dunk and a 58-57 lead.
Young added four consecutive free throws, and then Releford hit his big 3-pointer from the wing, allowing Self and another capacity crowd to finally start relaxing.
"I think Kansas is really good," Dunphy said. "They're a legitimate top program in the country and I think there are probably 10 schools that can come out of this fight in the NCAA this year and be right there at the end, and I would expect them to be right there."