Sunday, January 5, 2014

21st-ranked Aztecs outplay Jayhawks inside to claim 61-57 victory

San Diego State players Aqeel Quinn (10) and JJ O'Brien celebrate the Aztecs 61-57 victory over the Jayhawks as time expires on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

San Diego State players Aqeel Quinn (10) and JJ O'Brien celebrate the Aztecs 61-57 victory over the Jayhawks as time expires on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Following his team's 61-57 victory over Kansas University on Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher sat in front of the media with the look of a math teacher and meticulously dissected all of the things that allowed his team to pull the upset.

From the calculated decision to double team the post on defense — “We had to do that against Kansas,” Fisher said — to his no-brainer move to foul at the end when KU had possession and needed a three-pointer to tie in the waning seconds, Fisher went over each aspect in great detail and with great poise.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Joel Embiid, Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins discuss KU's 61-57 loss to San Diego State

Joel Embiid, Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins discuss KU's 61-57 loss to San Diego State

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self discusses his team's 61-57 loss to No. 21 San Diego State

KU coach Bill Self discusses his team's 61-57 loss to No. 21 San Diego State

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KU-SDSU box score, Jan. 5, 2014

Box Score

The Keegan Ratings - San Diego State

Keegan Ratings

When all of the questions were asked and all of the answers uttered, Fisher smiled and summed it up the best way he knew how.

“Thank you very much,” he began. “This was a fantastic victory for the Aztecs.”

The win was San Diego State's 11th in a row and improved SDSU to 12-1 overall. That it came in Lawrence, in Allen Fieldhouse no less, against what Fisher called a very good team only made the feeling sweeter.

“To come in here and give Bill Self his ninth home loss, that's pretty neat,” Fisher said. “I think what this win will do, it will get people east of the Mississippi (River) talking about us.”

Added SDSU guard Xavier Thames, who led the Aztecs with 16 points in 35 minutes: “This is a great win for us. A lot of teams don't come in here and get victories. I'm just blessed to be a part of this with my teammates.”

While the victory's significance figures to have a long and lasting impact on SDSU's big picture, the Aztecs' ability to enjoy the moment came down to two things — offensive rebounds and post defense.

The latter showed up early and often, as the Aztecs sent waves of defenders at KU's big men every time they touched the ball inside. Fisher said that had been a staple of his at every coaching stop and something his current team has become great at despite getting away from it for a few years recently.

“It was a focal point for us,” said SDSU forward Winston Shephard. “We've been working on it all week. We're used to Josh Davis (10 points, 14 rebounds) doing that, but Skylar Spencer did a great job against, really, an NBA front line and it was big for us.”

As for the Aztecs' advantage on the offensive glass, SDSU finished with just a 19-16 edge in that department, but benefitted when so many of those second-chance points came down the stretch as KU tried to mount a furious charge from 11 points down.

“We made some crucial second-chance opportunities,” Fisher said.

In the end, every bounce, tip, box out and free throw proved to be crucial for one of the most memorable victories in San Diego State history.

“It's a real big win,” said Spencer, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. “We've been thinking about it all year but we've been taking it one game at a time and we're just happy we came out with the W.”

Added Fisher: “We don't have the history Kansas does, but our recent history is pretty good.”


kellerman411 8 years, 5 months ago

Who let Doug Gottlieb in AFH? He is the absolute worst. He cannot stand KU basketball. He made a huge deal out of every call that went KU's way and downplayed everything that went to SDSU. I had to mute my television. He is the most passive aggressive sports guy I've ever heard open his mouth. He clearly saw this as an opportunity to damage KU. Making reference to things about Bill's past experiences with high level talent and how Wiggins is struggling at times. Then, at the end of a rant he'll add a random compliment to try and mask his alliance. I absolutely cannot stand it. Not sure how much control KU has over this but keep the guy away from the program. Let him call the OSU games and talk about how great they are if he wants.

As for the game, we couldn't make an open shot, period. That's some of the worst shooting I've seen from a KU team and we still had a chance to win at the end. I wouldn't look too much into it. This team has shown that they can make a shot here and there, at least much better than they did today.

John Randall 8 years, 5 months ago

The problem I saw tonight has been hanging around since Andrew Wiggins signed on as a Jayhawk. Absolutely nothing AW has done wrong – except feed the press and fans what they are more than happy to share with the players – the idea that there is so much talent on this team no one needs to push themself because someone else will pick up the slack . . .

I'm sure no one at practice thinks this way, but they've heard it so much from outside the program, it has to interfere with the message coaches push so hard.

Not hard to understand what's going on if you have spent enough time around impressionable teenagers.

Hank Cross 8 years, 5 months ago

How does an announcer in any way affect the game? The truth is that there have been a number of OADs at KU that haven't lived up to the hype for whatever reason.

It hasn't been spoken of much, but this season is a test of Self's ability to coach OADs. People can write-off Xavier and Selby all they like, but there has been one constant. If Wiggins's and Selden's stock drops after coming here (Embiid will be fine) that is going to be the subject of negative recruiting.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 5 months ago

Jason, that's utterly ridiculous. I watched the same game you did, and I didn't have a problem with anything Gottlieb said. In fact, I was glad to see him doing the game, as I've found him over the years to be quite knowledgeable and fair, and he generally doesn't talk down to his audience like a lot of analysts do.

It sounds to me like you have a bias against him and you're just looking for things to find fault with.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago

Biggest disappointments:

1] No number one lottery picks showed up today for the Crimson and Blue...young team going through growing pains.

2] Perry looked liked he was a step slow all day...very poor overall game.

3] Lack of aggressive play..almost looked like the Hawks were playing scared.

4] Zero boxing out on blocked or missed shots allowing at least four put-back dunks that were the difference in the game.

5] Maybe the harsh non-com schedule did more harm than good with this uber-young team..not enough confidence building victories.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 5 months ago

With the conference season now starting, I don't see much to be excited about, other than the "individual potential." My interest in signing OAD prospects is dimming.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

If Kansas is still allowed to go out and play the games, there is still something to get excited about. You know too much about basketball to think that they are doomed.

And really, is the world going to end and they not make the tourney if, dare I even say it, they finish below first in an excellent conference? I am pretty sure that more than one Big 12 team is going to the tourney. Are we really so snobby that they aren't worth our time if they aren't ssteamrolling through the sport?

Has it really come to that? Yuck.

Robert G Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

It appears to me that perhaps focusing on defense was not so wise. While of course defense is important, perhaps this team thrives on offense. Perhaps by focusing so much on defense, the team lost it's spark for offense, which we saw in the previous game. That seems to be what makes the game fun and inspired for this group of players. Just a thought.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm not real surprised with the game outcome. Do we really have “an NBA front line” when it gets outrebounded 51-39 (SDSU got 19 ORebs) on our home court? I’m not sure what to think of the 29.8% shooting on our home court…seriously. Do the guys work on shooting outside scheduled practice time?

What happened to Ellis tonight, 1-8? Most of his misses he normally knocks down. Is his equilibrium off from the head injury? Something must have been wrong with him.

Robert Brock 8 years, 5 months ago

Ellis doesn't like to mix it up with tough guys. He was brutalized.

Suggestion: get a little nasty, Perry!

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

I was torched for saying that Perry Ellis sucked in this game. Funny...

Mike Ford 8 years, 5 months ago

I paid good money to see this team not show up. However. SDSU was ranked and had Steve Fisher of Fab Five Michigan and Kawhli Leonard fame coach his team up to play David versus Goliath this afternoon. KU has to be able to make threes and free throws to overcome many teams playing zone defense on them or this is the result. Joel Embiid's 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks will make him a better draft pick than Cole Aldrich in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins did have 15 points today against an NCAA tourney team in SDSU. What hurt was too many jump shots out of frustration from the SDSU zone defense and no sense of team defense. This is a tough schedule KU is playing and based on strength of schedule they're TOP 15 which means as long as they dominate BIG TWELVE Play they'll probably be a 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Andrew Wiggins will probably be a good NBA player in spite of hating by in the bubble low knowledge about basketball KU players whom I heard many of while sitting at and leaving the game today. Face it, KU is not going to win every game. Go outside Lawrence once in a while. At least the OKC Thunder owned the Boston Celtics when I got home.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

There is virtually zero chance that the team I watched play tonight will DOMINATE Big 12 play. They have several losses headed their way over the next two months. They cannot shoot from outside and it will be the weakness that leads to their doom.

Mick Allen 8 years, 5 months ago

You do realize SDS played man to man the whole game.This shows the confidence Fisher has in his defense as all 3 of our prior losses came against zones, yet Fisher had no reservations in picking us up in man. Their season defensive stats are legit, 53 points a game allowed on 32% shooting. Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due. HCBS said before the game that SDS would be the best defense we have faced. This is a very solid veteran team that I believe can make a deep tourney run.

Alan Mills 8 years, 5 months ago

The better team won tonight. While I will continue to hope this team comes around at some point, I am less optimistic. Kansas simply does not have the shooters necessary to win big, close games. We keep hearing how well guys shoot in practice. Well, if you can't or don't make shots in games, you simply are not a good shooter. Bit, that pales in comparison to giving up double-digit offensive rebounds and being out rebounded by 12. It's one thing to shoot poorly and get beat on the boards when playing on the road. But, these are things that continue to happen at home! Very disappointing watching this game...probably worse than any of the previous losses this year.

P. S. I happen to think Gottleib likes KU quite a bit, but he's honest. SDSU was the better team, so he called it like he saw it.

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

I think you're right. Gottleib has a lot of respect for KU, its great tradition, coach Self and the incredibly talented players he continues to bring in year after year.

Yonatan Negash 8 years, 5 months ago

The best way to shut Gottlieb's mouth or anyone else for that matter is to win.

kellerman411 8 years, 5 months ago

I would say listen to more sports radio. I catch a couple shows every day and have heard Doug talk down at KU on several occasions. He's no friend of this program.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 5 months ago

I've heard Gottlieb on the radio a number of times, as well as seeing him on pregame and halftime shows, and I have yet to see/hear him say anything negative about KU that wasn't a fair comment.

Yonatan Negash 8 years, 5 months ago

I have to admit I am dejected, deflated, disappointed, and disgusted from watching this young team play. It’s extremely painful to watch this team. Never thought I’d say this but I miss last year’s team. Could have used Kevin Young’s energy boost tonight, Releford’s defensive play, Withey’s blocks and BMacs shooting.

This year’s team plays uninspired, damn near lazy ball majority of the time. Not sure they have the mental toughness to overcome tough teams and the obstacles these teams represent. I understand we’ve played a tough schedule but what good is it to play tough schedules if you’re going to lose to all the quality teams you play? If anything it could turnout to be more damaging to these young kids than anything. They just don’t have what it takes to overcome these types of obstacles.

At this rate Kansas will lose 10 games this season. The next two of three games will not be easy (at Oklahoma & at Iowa State). In fact, I hate to have to go to Norman after taking a mental beat down like we did tonight.

Releford said it best, this team plays SOFT and the sad part is their opponents know they play SOFT.

There I said my peace, just a little frustrated with this team.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago

At least a couple of questions were answered for me in my mind:

1] Wayne needs to stay another year.

2] Perry needs to stay another year.

3] Bill's biggest challenge will be to instill a sense of aggressiveness and toughness in this group by tourney time.

4] Brannen Greene is the designated HCBS 2014 Whipping Boy.

5] Conner should have red-shirted.

Robert Brock 8 years, 5 months ago

SDSU deserves respect: they came into a tough AFH setting and out-toughed and out-hustled the young Jayhawks. They clobbered the Hawks on the boards and roughed the young 'uns enough that they couldn't make regular shots.

They revealed that Self's team is soft. It hurts to say it, but it is true. Charmin soft.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 5 months ago

Soft, weak, lack of effort, lazy, dejected, deflated, disappointed, and disgusted. Can I add leaderless, quiet, unworthy, to the words used here in this blog about KU BB?

These are words we usually do not use to typically describe our team, game after game a third of the way through our schedule. I did not think we would be here. With so much talent, such a well put together class. This team looks average when they win against weaker teams and lose against any experienced or competitive teams. We are not getting better and need to come to turns that this might be a very disappointing year for us.

So much hope, with so little to show for it.

Titus Canby 8 years, 5 months ago

From what I've seen this year, it seems like we have some incredibly-talented, yet overly-inexperienced players all going 1 on 1 (or 1 on 5) against the opponent. No movement on offense, no fighting through screens on defense, no boxing out for rebounds on either end. They're all playing for the highlight reel. I'm worried we may be looking at an NIT team.

Hank Cross 8 years, 5 months ago

You walk it up, letting an experienced team that is one of the best defensive teams in the country set their defense - and everyone wonders why a very young team had trouble scoring points. I seriously doubt that SDSU had the better bench, yet KU's bench was not used to force the tempo creating to fatigue, leading to SDSU fouls and easier shots.

We've seen this game many times, KU plays down to another team's level because it does not try to force the other team to play up to KU's capabilities.

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