Sunday, January 5, 2014

SDSU last nonconference test for KU men

San Diego State forward Josh Davis slams home a basket against McNeese State during the second half of San Diego State's 65-36 victory in an NCAA college basketball game in San Diego, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Diego State forward Josh Davis slams home a basket against McNeese State during the second half of San Diego State's 65-36 victory in an NCAA college basketball game in San Diego, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


For Kansas University’s men’s basketball players and coaches, the quest for a 10th straight Big 12 title is near, but not yet here.

A major event precedes Wednesday’s league opener at Oklahoma: Today’s nonconference showdown between the No. 16-ranked Jayhawks (9-3) and No. 21 San Diego State Aztecs (11-1).

Tip is 3:30 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse, with a live telecast on CBS.

“They are one of the better defensive teams in the country. I am not blowing smoke. They will be one of the best teams we play this year. They are really good,” KU coach Bill Self said of a team that has won 10 consecutive games since a 69-60 loss to Arizona on Nov. 14 in San Diego.

“They have experience and leadership at point guard. They have a transfer from Tulane, eligible immediately. He’s a monster, maybe the best rebounder in the country. We’ll have our hands full, but it will be a great (preparation) game going into conference,” Self added.

The experienced point guard is senior Xavier Thames, 6-foot-3, 192 pounds from Sacramento, Calif., who averages a team-leading 16.3 points with 30 assists against 22 turnovers. He had 29 points in a 67-59 win over Marquette on Dec. 1 in Anaheim.

The Tulane transfer is Josh Davis, a 6-8, 215-pound senior who grabs 11.1 boards a game to go with his 8.8 ppg mark. He had 17 rebounds in a 65-36 victory over McNeese State on Dec. 21.

“Xavier Thames is playing as well as anybody in the country right now and that rubs off,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.

Winston Shepard, a 6-8 sophomore, averages 13.3 ppg. He went for 16 points and 10 boards in a 86-80 win over Creighton on Nov. 29 in Fullerton, Calif. Skylar Spencer, a 6-10 sophomore, has 28 blocks in his last 10 games, while J.J. O’Brien, a 6-7 junior, had 19 points against Arizona and averages 9.5 ppg.

“They are really good defensively and their numbers back it up,” Self said. The Aztecs, who like to press and play man to man defense, allow 53.3 points a game off 34.2 percent shooting. Opponents have hit 25.8 percent of their threes. KU allows 68.8 points off 41 percent shooting. Foes have hit 34.7 percent of their treys.

“They can score the ball (76.7 ppg to KU’s 79.4) but they hang their hat on stopping people. I’d be surprised if it was a game like Toledo,” Self said of a high-scoring contest like KU’s 93-83 win over the Rockets on Monday. “I do think they’ll play fast offensively. They usually make you use the clock when they are on defense just because they will not give up a lot of easy shots.”

Kansas enters a 9-point favorite, playing in the fieldhouse where the Jayhawks have won 68 consecutive nonconference games — the last loss to Oral Roberts on Nov. 15, 2006.

“Kansas gets huge runs at home and they get them against everybody. We have to manage their runs, manage it so they are not on a 16-0 run and they can do it,” Fisher said.

“Really good players and teams love to play in a building where they say, ‘Let’s see what we can do to silence the crowd.’ They enjoy that process. It’s hard to do, but really good players are able to do it. So we have to figure out how to do that on occasion.”

The Aztecs don’t figure to rattle easily.

“We have a good blend of youth and experience,” Fisher said. “We’ve played in big games before. We know what it’s like to be on national TV and play a terrific team on the road and that’s what we are playing.”

He likes KU’s talent.

“(Kansas) potentially has three players that are lottery picks in this year’s NBA draft. They’re very big, long and athletic, and more than anybody we’ve played, have a mandate to throw the ball inside,” Fisher said. “When you have that length and size, they can be hard to guard even when you defend well. They’ve outrebounded 11 out of 12 opponents.

“At one stage against Toledo, they had 12 offensive rebounds and Toledo had 11 total rebounds.”

San Diego State’s most recent game was a 71-61 victory over Colorado State on New Year’s Day in Colorado.

“I know they are real good defensively,” KU sophomore forward Perry Ellis said. “We’ll have to be real composed and really work to beat their press.”

“Coach said they are a good defensive team. They lock down,” sophomore forward Jamari Traylor said. “They are really athletic. We’ll see if we can get better defensively going into conference games.”

Big game: San Diego State’s Thames on how the Aztecs view the game compared to a Mountain West Conference game: “This is a big game going against a good Kansas team. It’s going to feel like an NCAA Tournament game. So it’s just preparing us for the NCAA (Tournament) games, so hopefully we can go out there and get a win,” Thames said.

He’s a top recruit, too: Sophomore forward Shepard on what it will be like playing against many high-profile recruits:

“I was a highly-ranked (recruit) coming out of high school as well, but at the end of the day, none of that stuff matters,” said Shepard, ranked No. 21 in the class of 2012 by

“If that was the case, every top-ranked player would go to the NBA. All the hoopla from the recruiting world gets settled on the court. They’ve got to match up with us just like we have to match up with them, so we’ll see on Sunday.”

Of the hype surrounding KU’s Andrew Wiggins, Shepard said; “I think I’m a pretty good player too, so we’ll see. It’s a big game, but I try not to get caught up in one-on-one things. I think that was a mistake I made last year. So I’m just going to come out and try to play the same type of game I’ve been playing. Get my teammates involved, and when I’m open and I can attack, I’ll do that. But as far as getting caught up in a one-on-one matchup, I think that would be going down the wrong road for me.”

No bad blood: Fisher told the San Diego Union-Tribune there’s no bad blood between himself and KU coach Bill Self. KU landed recruit Kevin Young in the summer of 2011 despite the fact he’d been committed to San Diego State.

“That’s over, you know?” Fisher told the paper. “I’m a big boy. I move on. I didn’t like what happened or the way it happened, but that’s history that has no history any longer.

“If you didn’t speak to a guy where you found something happened that you didn’t like, there’d be about two people in the country you’d speak to. I like Bill. He’s a good coach and he’s a good guy,” Fisher added.

Self said: “If you are in the business long enough, things like that happen inevitably. Certainly it happened between him (Fisher) and me. That does not in the least way, shape or form affect our relationship. If it does, then obviously we didn’t care much for each other to begin with. I think he’s a first-class guy. He’s an unbelievable coach, done an unbelievable job at San Diego State.”


Robert Brock 4 years, 3 months ago

Here's hoping that the Hawks can play defense, too.

Prediction: KU 64, SDSU 58.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 3 months ago

I don't know if that will be the case. Can't play like freshmen too much. Need both first and second halves.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 3 months ago

This game will demonstrate how two polar opposite approaches to preparing a team works. SDSU has built a resume against teams like St. Katherine's, McNease State, Southern Utah with a sprinkling of good teams (AZ, Marquett and Creighton).

Recruiting: Several of us Houston area Jayhawkers attended last night’s 51-49 OT win for St. John’s (Justice Winslow) over Trinity Euless (Myles Turner). Winslow had 34 points (15-21 FT) and 15 rebounds vs Turner’s 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. St. John’s brought double and triple teams when the ball came into the post but Turner showed great vision with 4 assist and several other should have been assist.

Turner seems to be a great kid but has some work ahead of him and should benefit a lot from Kansas. At this point the consensus was Turner needs Kansas much more than we need him. Trying very hard not to be a biased homer, it’s difficult to see how Turner could pass on Kansas, especially if Embiid leaves.

Winslow, who seemed anoyed by the several Trinity/Turner fans wearing Jayhawk attire, definitely wanted to lay some pain on Turner last night. One of the Euless parents said numerous Jayhawk attired fans attend all of the Trinity games. Kansas would provide a great framework for Turner to even the score when a national TV audience will be watching them play in NCAA tournament.

Self spent his birthday watching Alexander the Great, who send him bday greatings via youtube.

Robert Brock 4 years, 3 months ago

Turner will probably choose Oklahoma State.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 3 months ago

Why would he want to pick OSU? What history does OSU or Travis Ford have in developing bigs for the NBA? Turner needs to be with an expirenced organization to develp his skill set. The Kansas of play, ability to develop bigs, facilities, and organization (Coaches, strength program...) are what he needs. Myles is a skinny kid that needs to develop his body. At this point he does not look like a OAD and reminds me a little of BU's Austin.

If the kid wants to develop with NBA goals, why go with an unproven OSU when you have a near "sure thing" in Kansas?

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

Suzi - Definitely agree with your rationale, and somewhat expect Turner to commit when Embiid declares for the draft.

To answer your question though, OSU would be beneficial because he becomes the focal point in the middle of everything for an OSU team with virtually no bigs. Hopefully, he also considers what they will have coming back next year - very little to be a supporting cast.

Robert Brock 4 years, 3 months ago

Turner would be the third big at KU and would sit while Ellis and Alexander play. I have watched him play several games and agree that he is not strong and needs a lot of work on his game. Just passing along the conventional information that Jerry Meyer and other evaluators and scribes have had to say. Looks like OSU.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 3 months ago

From what I have seen from Mickleson and Lucas, you can add those two as stiff competition for Turner. You have a good point in that Turner might not get much PT his Freshman year at Kansas.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 3 months ago

KU70 SDSU 64. It will be a good game and our defense will be challenged. We need to win in rebounding.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 3 months ago


1] HCBS is a crafty scheduling SDST, not only will his offfense get a major challenge before conference, but also his defense will get a first hand view of another team with good defense...two birds with one stone, so to speak!!

2] As Roberts Frost would have said, " Myles to go before he sleeps." Does anyone think that Myles, Perry and Cliff will be on the floor at the same time? I'm not sure, but God bless you Suzi and you other Houston 'Hawks...that's got to be something a high school kid notices!!

3] SDST may find Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse a little tougher opponent than The Little Sisters of the Poor, Charlie Brown High and whatever other sacrificial lambs that have been on their schedule.

4] SSSUUUURRREEEE......Coach Fisher has no hard feelings about KY..Div. One coaches are like elephants...they never forget!

5] KU will surprise SDST and win handily, 75 - 61.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

3] SDSU has played some tough games, and done well, but it would certainly seem like their #'s have been padded by the other half of their schedule - the half that has led to a 150 to 250-ish SOS.

1] Looking forward to this aspect.

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