Temple's Johnson records 700th victory

Temple's Johnson records 700th victory

Story courtesy of Greg Wille, Temple Telegram

Temple College 78. Western Texas 71.

Kirby Johnson: 700.

The Leopards (9-0) stormed back from 13 points down over the final 8½ minutes of the second half Saturday to secure the seven-point non-conference nod over the previously-unbeaten Westerners (10-1) and propel their longtime coach to yet another milestone with the program — win No. 700.

"What it means is I've been there a long time, and I'm pretty old," Johnson, in his 33rd and final season in charge, said of the victory mark. "But it also means I've had a lot of good players. I've been blessed. I've had good kids with good character. Like today, they didn't give up."

Temple closed Saturday's festivities with a 27-7 run, switching to a zone defense and getting clutch points in crunch time from West Virginia-bound Kedrian Johnson. The sophomore scored 19 of his 21 points — including 13 straight during the Leopards' decisive run — in the second half.

"We had taken a timeout with about 6 minutes left and I told them they had their run and we were going to make our run," Kirby Johnson said. "We're never out of a game because we have a bunch of different guys that can score. One thing about our group this year is that we do not lack confidence. Our kids know they can score and they don't panic. We just told them to keep playing defense and keep shooting."

TC trailed 64-51 with 8:30 left, caught Western Texas at 68 on Kedrian Johnson's 3-pointer with 2:51 to go and took the lead for good on the next trip down the floor through Aleu Aleu's corner 3.

Kortrijk Miles posted 14 of his 21 points for the Leopards in the first half, at the end of which TC led 38-36. Carlton Linguard chipped in 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and R.J. Mason had 10 points.

"We just have a lot of gritty kids. They believe in each other and believe in the system," Kirby Johnson said. "But we do know that we've got a long way to go. We're not satisfied."