LAWRENCE, Kan. - When Temple gets Dionte Christmas and his teammates playing on both ends of the court at the same high level, magical results can occur, such as the Owls' upset of then-No. 8 Tennessee one week ago.
But when Christmas struggles for a half, and the rest of the Owls struggle in another half, then the outcome is not good for Temple, such as in yesterday's 71-59 loss to Kansas before a packed house of 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Coming off a 35-point performance against Tennessee, Christmas managed just three points in the first half yesterday. But guys like Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks helped pick up the slack, and the Owls (5-4) were fortunate to be trailing by just eight at the half.
Christmas improved offensively in the second half, scoring 18 of his game-high 21 points. But the rest of his teammates accounted for just 11, and the Jayhawks (8-2) took advantage of one extended dry spell of 51/2 minutes to put the game away with a 15-2 run.
"We counted too much on perimeter jump-shooting," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "Dionte had gone on a nice little stretch [in the second half] but then they tightened that up. They're not going to let him get too many good looks. We needed other guys to step up. We had a couple of opportunities for other guys to make shots, but we just didn't make them."
Christmas didn't score until the 1 minute, 30 second mark of the first half, barely avoiding his third scoreless opening half of the season. All six of his field goals for the game were from beyond the arc.
"It's a matter of just letting the game come to me," Christmas said. "I thought the last couple of games I've been doing that. It's a matter of just figuring out defensively how the guys are playing me, and then in the second half, I get in the groove of things."
Dunphy lamented that the Owls didn't get the ball inside nearly enough, scoring only eight points in the paint compared to 28 for Kansas. Sergio Olmos, the Owls' 7-foot senior center who had 19 points against Tennessee, was a non-factor yesterday, with eight points and two rebounds.
"He can't be tentative," Dunphy said. "He's got to be aggressive offensively. If they're going to guard Dionte with a lot of people, then we need other guys to step up and Serge was one of those guys we needed today."
Markieff Morris, a freshman from Penn Charter who was in the starting lineup for Kansas, and his twin brother, Marcus, combined for 17 points and seven rebounds.
Due to a flight delay out of Philadelphia, the Owls did not get to their hotel here until 1:30 a.m. Dunphy said the late arrival was not a factor in the game.
The atmosphere at the building affectionately called "The Phog" seemed to rattle the Temple players initially. The Owls appeared mesmerized by the montage of Kansas basketball highlights on the scoreboard before the Jayhawks were introduced, and Luis Guzman called his teammates into a huddle to say, "Hey, we can't be awed."
Maybe they were. The Owls fell into a 17-5 hole early but kept fighting back. They were one possession away from tying the game or taking the lead six times, but could never do so.
Allen was kept out of the starting lineup for violating a team rule, according to a Temple spokesman. Allen entered the game with 15:36 left in the first half and played 35 minutes, accounting for 10 points, plus team highs of seven rebounds and five assists.