No. 19 Aztecs Hand No. 16 Kansas Rare Home Loss, 61-57
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The top field-goal percentage defense in the country prevailed over the nation’s fifth-best offense as No. 21/19 San Diego State defeated No. 16/17 Kansas on a rare Sunday game inside Allen Fieldhouse, 61-57.
The Aztecs (12-1) earned the first non-conference win over the Jayhawks (9-4) in Allen Fieldhouse in more than seven years as Kansas continued one of the toughest schedules in the country, with SDSU serving as the seventh non-conference foe that was either ranked or receiving votes.
The loss snapped a 68-game home win streak against non-conference opponents – the last loss was to Oral Roberts, Nov. 15, 2006 – and saw Kansas record its lowest scoring output (57), lowest field-goal percentage (29.8) and fewest field goals made of the season (17).
The Aztecs limited Kansas to just one make in its first eight shots to open the game and a dismal 6-of-29 for the entirety of the first half – marking KU’s worst efficiency in a half since its 13 percent effort in the ill-fated TCU game a year ago (13 percent, 1st half, 2/6/13). By the end of the afternoon, the Jayhawks’ 29.8 field goal percentage barely cleared that TCU game (29.5).
A trio of freshmen starters led the Jayhawks, beginning with Joel Embiid and his second-straight double-double. He led the team with 12 rebounds and added 12 points. Freshman guard Frank Mason’s 10-second half points led a Jayhawk team that fought to get back in it, ending his performance with 14 points. Andrew Wiggins tied the team-high effort with 14 points of his own, but made just 4-of-14 attempts.
Sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who started the game with the best field goal percentage in the Big 12, was sorely missed as he went just 1-for-8 on Sunday. Following his career-high effort against Toledo, junior point guard Naadir Tharpe score five points, but also added five rebounds, five assists and no turnovers.
The Aztecs sported a much different, experienced roster, led by senior duo Xavier Thames and Josh Davis. Thames led all scorers with 16 points, while Davis collected his 36th career double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds), the second-most among active NCAA Division I players.
Two early Kansas turnovers allowed San Diego State the chance to score first, while keeping KU off the board until freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr., opened up for four-straight points, including KU’s first three of the game. After picking up some help from Wiggins and a three from Tharpe, the Jayhawks climbed in front, but the scoring was slow. By the second media timeout, Kansas was hitting a meager 14 percent (2-for-14) with both buckets coming from behind the arc.
Embiid broke the trend with a rebound and a put-back under the basket nearly 10 minutes into the game, but a dunk from SDSU’s Skylar Spencer returned the lead to the Aztecs and prompted a Bill Self timeout. The visitors picked up where they left off out of the pause thanks to a goal tending call and again when Thames outlasted the Kansas defense to hit a well-contested three, increasing their lead to 21-13.
In their first 20 attempts, the Jayhawks had made only three. Ignoring the urge to panic, KU made three-straight shots, twice off the hands of Wiggins and the other a pull-up jumper at the top of the key from Mason to cut into the deficit, 24-21. While San Diego State missed three of its last four as the first frame drew to a close, the Aztecs took advantage being fouled on three-pointer and knocked down all three from the line to spark a late 5-0 run. The Aztecs’ 29-23 lead at the break marked the first time the Jayhawks have trailed in Allen Fieldhouse since Nov. 15, 2012 (36-28 vs. Chattanooga).
The Jayhawks ignored the deficit, specifically Tharpe, who turned a defensive rebound into an assisted Selden fastbreak dunk early in the second frame. KU’s sold-out crowd needed the reenergizing slam as much as its team did, and the Jayhawks stayed close, 33-27. But with scoring so hard to come by, Kansas started the second half just 4-for-16, another 5-0 scoring run saw KU fall behind by double-figures.
Facing a 42-31 deficit and 10 minutes on the clock, Kansas saw no better time to start its final comeback attempt. Mason was up first, driving the lane for a layup to get the SDSU lead back to single digits. When Ellis missed KU’s next attempt, Embiid was right there to put it back in. Ellis got his turn next when he was hacked during a made layup and made good on the and-one shot, slicing the lead to six, 44-38, with 8:13 to go.
Ellis came up with a block for a crucial stop on the defensive end, giving Mason room to work. The rookie hit his first three with 5:33 on the clock, putting KU in its closest range of the half, 47-42. Showing incredible poise, Embiid hit his first free throw, waited through a San Diego State timeout, and nailed the second. Twenty seconds later, Wiggins added his input when the rookie broke away for a layup.
What was once a 42-31 lead was now a 48-46 game with 4:42 to play.
Four-straight free throws from Wiggins and Embiid brought the Jayhawks within five, setting up Mason for what appeared to be the play of the game. Just over 90 seconds remained when the rookie reserved drilled a three-pointer from the corner to put Kansas within a single point, 57-56.
But the comeback wasn’t meant to be. San Diego State refused the Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere and pounded out two free throws with 8.3 to play. Kansas saw just its ninth home loss in the Self era, falling to SDSU 61-57.
Kansas will open Big 12 Conference play on Jan. 8 at Oklahoma. Tip time is set for 6 p.m. and will air on ESPN2.
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KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (10/10), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (13/13), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (13/13), So. Perry Ellis (13/16), Fr. Joel Embiid (5/5)
SERIES INFO: San Diego State leads 2-1
- Dropped Kansas to 9-4 on the season
- Ended Kansas’ 68-game win streak against non-conference opponents in Allen Fieldhouse, its first since home non-conference loss since falling to Oral Roberts on Nov. 15, 2006.
- Marked the first time the Jayhawks have dropped the first game of the calendar year since falling to Wichita State on Jan. 6, 1987, and the first calendar year-opening loss inside Allen Fieldhouse since losing to Nebraska on Jan. 6, 1962.
- Made the Kansas-San Diego State series 2-1 in favor of SDSU
- Made KU 5-1 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 704-109 all-time in the venue, including 166-9 under Bill Self
- Made Bill Self 309-63 in his 11th season at Kansas and 516-168 in his 21st season overall
- Made KU 2,110-816 all-time
- Kansas’ 29.8 percent (17-of-57) shooting from the field was its lowest in Allen Fieldhouse since field goals and field goal attempts became an official stat in 1988-89.
- The game marked season-lows for KU in points (57), field goals (17), field goal percentage (29.8%) and defensive rebounds (23).
- San Diego State amassed KU opponent-highs in offensive rebounds (19), defensive rebounds (32), total rebounds (51) and blocks (8).
- The Aztecs’ 51 rebounds were the most by a Kansas opponent since Iowa State brought down 57 boards against the Jayhawks on Feb. 21, 2004.
- Kansas has held all 13 opponents under 50 percent shooting from the field and SDSU’s 37.7 (23-of-61) marked the sixth time the Jayhawks held their opponent below 40 percent from the field.
- KU connected on just 20.7 percent (6-of-29) of its first half field goal attempts, the Jayhawks’ lowest field goal percentage in a half since hitting 13.6 percent (3-of-22) of its shots in the first half versus TCU on Feb. 6, 2013.
- Kansas’ 29.8 percent (17-of-57) clip from the field was also its lowest since shooting 29.5 percent against TCU on Feb. 6, 2013.
- Kansas’ 13 blocks were a season-high and the most since the Jayhawks tallied 16 rejections versus San Jose State on Nov. 26, 2012.
- KU had six players collect at least one block on the day, the most to do so this year and the most since six Jayhawks also tallied a block in a KU win over Kansas State on March 16, 2013.
- The Jayhawks found themselves trailing 29-23 after the first half, KU’s first halftime deficit in Allen Fieldhouse since getting behind 36-28 at halftime to Chattanooga on Nov. 15, 2012.
- The Jayhawks saw three or more players score in double figures for the 12th time this year.
- Kansas’ four losses came at the expense of a brutal non-conference schedule as the four opponents to have beaten the Jayhawks this season have a combined record of 48-6 and are currently all ranked in the top-20.
- San Diego State moved to 104-0 in its last 104 games when leading with five minutes to play.
- SDSU’s 61 points were its second fewest of the year, following its 60-point output in its lone loss of the year to Arizona on Nov. 14, 2013.
- Freshman C Joel Embiid posted 12 points and 12 rebounds to earn his team-leading third double-double of the season and his second in as many games.
- Embiid’s five blocks were the most against the Aztecs this year and marked his seventh game with three or more rejections.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins tallied 14 points to mark his 12th game in double figures.
- Wiggins connected on 6-of-7 free throws and has now connected on 28 of his last 30 attempts from the charity stripe.
- Freshman G Frank Mason tied his season-high in three pointers, connecting on two from beyond the arc.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe tallied his second game of the season with no turnovers and the fourth of his career (min. 20 minutes played).
- Sophomore F Perry Ellis’ three blocks were a career-high.
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On missing shots early but having a chance at the end:
“There was definitely a lid (on the basket) – the biggest lid was they really guard. They contest shots at the rim and they’re explosive off their feet. They trap the post and of course we struggled with that early and then we had a huge turnover late when they did that.
“They did a good job, good team and Thames controlled the game, but the biggest thing is they beat us on toughness plays and they killed us on the glass down the stretch – that’s how they won the game. Our first shot defense was actually the best it’s been in a while. They ended up shooting 37 percent for the game but I bet they shot 25 percent or less on first shot defense. We couldn’t secure without a rotation rebounding, guards didn’t help clean up and that kind of stuff. Defensively we were actually pretty good. Rebounding we were obviously god awful and they whipped us physically – they were more athletic than us and more aggressive than us.
“We still had a chance and the crowd tried to help us. We had a chance and didn’t make the play. We’re down two and Frank’s got the ball in transition and just loses it, I don’t know how he said it slipped out of his hands. Perry had a chance to make the free throw late but you hate to put it on one free throw or one guy because there are a thousand plays in the game that can help make that, can help change the outcome. Everything is magnified late and we just didn’t get it done.”
On setting up a late play for Perry despite his struggling performance:
“Perry had an off day. For him that’s pretty obvious. There at the end we thought that would be our best chance for him to drive a big and he did exactly what he was supposed to do and got fouled. He went to the line and made the first one and then I think they called timeout and then missed the second one. If I’m not mistaken the ball bounced around or went off our knee or something, I can’t remember the exact timing of it but we had chances. The difference is this, and it’s something minor, but twice we put two guys on Thames on out of bounds under spot throw-ins and he still caught it. All we had to do was make somebody else catch it and they throw it to their best free-throw shooter and of course he’s going to make them because he’s clutch. That’s the difference, he just wanted the ball and we have to make our guys want the ball like that. That was just young guys playing against old guys and they just knew how to compete better down the stretch.”
On San Diego State’s second chance points:
“They got them all at the end of the game. I bet you they had eight in the last ten minutes. Lot of rotation rebounding, we went small for a while which actually helped us offensively and our first-shot defense was fine but they hurt us on the glass. The thing about it is, and we’ve said this all along, if you look at our guys individually: Tarik’s pretty aggressive by nature; Jamari is pretty aggressive by nature; but we don’t have aggressive guys by nature. We got exposed today which is not a surprise because we were playing a tough team. We played a monster schedule, no excuses, but I wish we may have done it a little different. We know now exactly who we are and where we’re at and what we have to do to try and get better.
“I was proud of Naadir. Statistically, he didn’t have a great game but he turned his ankle so bad on Wednesday that he hadn’t practiced or done anything besides treatment six times a day. He was trying to put himself in a position to where he could play today. He went a little bit half-court yesterday and felt good but even with that you’re nicked up and don’t have a rhythm. He took a couple ill-advised shots when we had a chance to comeback, tie or take the lead.
“It’s a learning process, and certainly one that I’m disappointed in for sure, but hopefully if we’re in this situation again we act a little bit better. We’re going to play some more games where it comes down to the last three minutes.”
On the upcoming Big 12 schedule:
“We go to Oklahoma and then come back and play Kansas State who beat Oklahoma State, and then we go to Ames and they’re undefeated. It’s a tough setup without question but we can get off to a great start if we do things better.
“Wayne’s not plugged into the game at all doing intangible things like he can. We have to get where we can plug guys in and be more effective in what we’re trying to do, we’re just not quite there yet but hopefully we can get better and certainly I’d like to play Brannen or Conner, but that’s not a game in which they’re ready to play yet. It was a game in which we never got in rhythm because they guard and it just goes to show, if you defend and rebound on the road you have a great chance to win. It should be a lesson to our guys when we go to someone else’s house.”
Kansas freshman guard Frank Mason
On chasing down San Diego State’s plays:
“Every play we made they seemed to come down and they got something positive out of their next possession, whether it was free throws or a made basket. We just couldn’t get the stops that we needed.”
On what coach Self is saying about the next half of the season:
“Our first portion of the season was not that good and now in our second portion of the season we need to become a better team, become better on defense, and that basically the regular season is starting now.”
On the team’s shooting today:
“I was very surprised because most of those shots that we missed aren’t usually part of the game for us.”
On bouncing back:
“I think we just need to move on as a team and as individuals and not worry about the mistakes we made from this game. We just need to come in everyday for practice before the next game and try to learn as much as we can.”
Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins
On the execution of the game:
“We all missed shots that we usually make and that can happen from time to time with a young team. We just need to be able to defend. That’s what we need to get better at. They were very aggressive.”
On heading into conference games:
“We just need to learn from this game and stay positive.”
On how tough San Diego State was:
“They are all athletic. They work hard, they’re tough, and they’re always going after the ball.”
On playing against Josh Davis:
“I didn’t really think he was on me. I just missed shots that I usually make.”
On being a young team and going into the conference games:
“I think we have learned a lot to help us down the road. We need to make clutch, last second shots and it has always been hard but we are still learning a lot and we are young so that is good.”
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher
On SDSU’s strategy against Kansas:
“My biggest concern coming in was, ‘How are we going to defend them in the post?’ Because they are so good at hi-low, throwing it over the top, moving up the lane. I thought we were sensational with our post-defense. When they got it down low I thought we did a good job of getting in to the double team and when they threw it out we got out of it.”
On the determining factor in the game:
“We have a goal to rebound half of our misses. And that’s exactly what we did, we had 19 offensive rebounds and I believe we had 38 misses. We made some crucial second-chance point opportunities. It was Skylar Spencer, Josh Davis and JJ O’Brien that were relentless on the glass.”
On countering Kansas’ comeback:
“They punched us. But that’s college basketball. Runs are going to happen and Kansas can get on those runs and the crowd can get them going and then all of a sudden they can get 15 in a row. We didn’t let that happen. We found a way to sneak out a victory, and we’re happy about that.”
On what the victory over Kansas means:
“To come in here against a really good team and win is a wonderful victory for our program. If we would have come in here and not won, we still would have a good program, and we’re proud of that fact. To come in here and give Bill Self his ninth home loss, that’s pretty neat to be able to do that. This was a really good win for us, I think this win will get people East of the Mississippi talking about us.”
San Diego State sophomore forward Skylar Spencer
On double-teaming the post:
“It’s something we’ve been working on all week. We wanted to contain the post because we know their offense works from the inside out. I could tell they were not as aggressive (on offense) as they were against some other teams, so I think we were pretty effective.”
On the significance of winning on Allen Fieldhouse:
“This is a real big win. We have been thinking about it all year, but we have been taking it one game at a time and we are just glad to come out with a win.”
On his early foul trouble in the second half:
“It was coach’s choice, but I wanted to stay in the game because I was having a pretty good game and we had a flow going. I guess coach wanted me to come out for a little bit and go right back in.”
On if the foul trouble changed his approach to the game:
“Sort of. Normally, I would go for a few more blocks but I just had to play straight up. For the most part, I felt like everything went in my favor and I was still able to play aggressively.”
San Diego State senior guard Xavier Thames
On the significance of winning on Allen Fieldhouse:
“This is a great win for us. A lot of teams don’t come in here (Allen Fieldhouse) and get victories since Bill Self has been here. I am just blessed to be a part of this with my teammates. It was a great win for us.”
On how he maintained his poise when KU pulled within one point:
“First of all, our coach (Steve Fisher) never gets rattled. He is even-keeled regardless of whether we are up 20 points or if it’s a close game. Every time after a timeout, Coach Fisher tells us, ‘take a good thought out of this timeout with you,’ and I think that is how we maintained our poise and got this win.”
On what those good thoughts are:
“Coach Fisher tells us to think of something positive, take a deep breath. Whatever it is, basketball, family or whatever, he tells us to think positive and I believe it helps us.”
San Diego State sophomore forward Winston Shepard
On the team’s focus on the offensive glass:
“It was a focal point for us, and the game just started flowing that way. Skylar (Spencer) came up big for us. We are used to seeing Josh Davis get 14 or 15 offensive boards a game, but Skylar did a great job against their NBA frontline.”