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San Diego State wins on Kansas' home floor

The SportsXchange

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- One of the toughest places for opponents to apply sticky defense is Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse.

Yet No. 21 San Diego State did not allow its reputation to get tarnished one bit Sunday.

Kansas failed to solve the Aztecs' pressure as the No. 16 Jayhawks shot just 29.8 percent from the field and San Diego State used 16 points from guard Xavier Thames and 13 from forward Skylar Spencer to claim a 61-57 victory.

"We've been thinking about it all year,'' Spencer said of the Kansas visit, "but we've had to take things a game at a time.''

The upset ended a string of 68 straight nonconference home wins for Kansas and was just the ninth defeat for Bill Self in 175 home games as the Jayhawks' 11th-year coach.

"Pretty neat,'' San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "People will be saying San Diego State beat Kansas, at Kansas, so that is good for the program.''

The Aztecs came in limiting opponents to 34.2 percent shooting, the best mark in the country, while allowing just 53.3 points on average.

The Jayhawks crawled within 57-55 on a 3-pointer by guard Frank Mason with 22 seconds remaining, but the Aztecs used good foul shooting and a 51-39 rebounding advantage to improve their record to 12-1.

"Every play we made, they'd come back and get something positive,'' Mason said. "We couldn't get the stops we needed.''

The win, sealed with 4.6 seconds left on two free throws by Thames, was the 11th straight for San Diego State.

Physical play underneath was key to the Aztecs' success. They often doubled defensively on the low post and prevented the Jayhawks from getting ally-oop jams. On the other end, San Diego State scored 14 second-chance points while rebounding precisely half (19) of its misses.

Forward Josh Davis added a double-double, contributing 10 points and a team-high 14 rebounds for San Diego State. Spencer and forward J.J. O'Brien added nine rebounds apiece.

In dropping to 9-4, Kansas was led by freshman guard Andrew Wiggins with 14 points and freshman center Joel Embiid with 12.

"We've had a hard first season and a hard schedule,'' Self said of the nonconference portion of the Kansas schedule. "When we're not right, we can be had.''

San Diego State became the fourth nonconference team to win at Kansas with Self coaching the Jayhawks. The last was Oral Roberts on Nov. 15, 2006. Richmond and Nevada also won in Allen Fieldhouse. It marked the first time Kansas lost at home to begin a calendar year since a 1962 defeat against Nebraska.

"The win was of great significance for San Diego State because it's a seed game,'' said Self, referring to the NCAA tournament. "For us it was just preparation for league.''

Some prep.

Kansas missed 17 of its first 20 shots while digging a 29-23 halftime deficit. By the end of the half, the Jayhawks had just one starter (Wiggins) on the floor, though the subs provided little spark. Kansas scored its last field goal with 4:33 showing on a bucket by Mason.

That basket drew the Jayhawks within 24-21, but they only managed two more points in the half, on free throws by Mason with 1:25 remaining. Wiggins scored eight first-half points to lead Kansas.

Thames scored nine points to pace San Diego State in the first half. In addition to holding the Jayhawks to 20.7 percent first-half shooting (6-of-29), the Aztecs managed a 23-20 edge on the glass.

NOTES: Although most Big 12 teams opened conference play on Saturday, Kansas will play its league opener Wednesday at Oklahoma. The Jayhawks are bidding for a 10th consecutive regular-season Big 12 title. Oklahoma opened with an 88-85 win at Texas. Kansas is 0-2 on the road, losing at Colorado and at Florida. ... Bill Self of Kansas and Steve Fisher of San Diego State are two of 11 active major-college coaches to have led teams to national championships. ... For the Aztecs, Sunday's game was the second of three straight against NCAA tournament qualifiers from last season. They won at Colorado State on Jan. 1 to open Mountain West play and will be at home Wednesday against Boise State. The three games cover three time zones. ... San Diego State beat a third consecutive ranked opponent for the first time in its history. It topped No. 20 Creighton on Nov. 29 and No. 25 Marquette on Dec. 1.

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