Bill Self was expecting a grind-it-out game, a game in which every possession would matter, a game in which his top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks would have "their manhood" tested for the first time.
He just expected it a game ago.
Kansas got the sort of gutcheck game it hadn't experienced since the season opener against Memphis, but not at Temple as Self expected. KU got it instead from a Cornell team that went to Allen Fieldhouse and took Kansas to the very brink of disaster before the Jayhawks could escape, 71-66.
Know this much: nobody wants to be seeing (Big) Red come March.
And know this as well: as tough as that game might have been to sit through for the Kansas faithful, it's the sort of game Self wanted to see. There's a little bit of masochist in every college basketball coach -- they want to win, they don't mind winning easy, but their morbid curiosity always has them wondering how their players will handle adversity. Self got his answer. Sherron Collins stole the headlines, scoring a career-high 33 points, including pivotal freebies in the final minute to remind everyone that player of the year honors haven't been decided yet.
But what was maybe as impressive as Collins' light-up night was the way Cole Aldrich and Tyrel Reed came up big for Kansas at crucial minutes. Aldrich scored on a baby hook shot to cut Cornell's lead to 60-58 and then swatted a Louis Dale shot on the other end. After Jeff Foote traveled for Cornell, Reed hit his only bucket of the night, a 3-pointer that gave KU the lead.
Self left Philadelphia impressed with how hard his team played and more than pleased, but still wondering how tough they would be when things got rough. With one more non-conference game before the tough Big 12 season opens, he might have gotten his answer.
Just a game later than expected.