The Norman Transcript

January 6, 2014

Aztecs stun Jayhawks

By Dave Skretta
The Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Every shot Kansas put up seemed to clank off the rim. Every one that San Diego State missed seemed to end up back in its hands, there for an easy layup or wide open dunk.

You would have thought it was the Jayhawks who were playing on the road.

Instead, the 21st-ranked Aztecs persevered down the stretch behind 16 points from Xavier Thames, whose four free throws in the closing seconds Sunday sealed a 61-57 victory over No. 16 Kansas, ending the Jayhawks’ 68-game non-conference winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse.

“The way I see it, we got exactly what we deserved. They were better than us,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, who had more Big 12 titles (nine straight) on his resume coming into the game than he had losses (eight overall) at the Jayhawks’ venerable on-campus arena.

“This is a hard place to win,” Self said. “They made us play poorly.”

Still, Kansas (9-4) had a chance to tie the game when Perry Ellis went to the free throw line with 11.9 seconds left. He made his first free throw but, after San Diego State (12-1) called time out to ice him, Ellis missed the second and the Jayhawks were forced to foul.

Thames made both free throws to give San Diego State a three-point lead, and the Aztecs fouled rather than allow Kansas to attempt a tying 3. Frank Mason missed the first and made the second, and Thames made two more free throws with 4.6 seconds left to seal the win.

“We all missed shots we usually make,” said freshman Andrew Wiggins, who had 14 points for the Jayhawks, “and that’s going to happen from time to time with a young team.”

Mason also finished with 14 points, and Joel Embiid had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Kansas, which had won 112 of its last 114 games at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Every play we made, it seemed like they came down, they got something positive out of the next possession,” Mason said. “We just couldn’t get the stops we needed.”

Skylar Spencer finished with 13 points and Josh Davis had 10 for the Aztecs, who have won 11 straight since losing to No. 1 Arizona on Nov. 14. That streak is tied for the second-best in school history and trails only the 20-0 start of the 2010-11 team.

The Jayhawks struggled against the long, lanky Aztecs right from the start, missing eight of their first nine shots and allowing San Diego State to dictate the tempo.

After a 3-pointer by Naadir Tharpe gave Kansas a 9-8 lead, the Jayhawks had just one more field goal over the next 8-plus minutes. Thames and Davis had no such trouble for San Diego State, hitting a series of jumpers and contested layups as the Aztecs built a 29-23 halftime lead.

Kansas wound up shooting 20.7 percent (6 of 29) in the first half.

“They missed some shots,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said, “but we didn’t give them a lot of shots from the sweet spots, where they wanted them.”

No. 8 Wichita State 67, Northern Iowa 53: WICHITA, Kan. — Fred VanVleet had a season-high 22 points to lead No. 8 Wichita State past Northern Iowa 67-53 on Sunday, the unbeaten Shockers’ 15th straight win.

Cleanthony Early had 18 points for Wichita State (15-0, 2-0 Missouri Valley), which established a school record for consecutive wins and extended the best start in school history. The previous record winning streak of 14 games came in 1953-54.

Deon Mitchell had 16 points for Northern Iowa (7-7, 1-1).

Wichita State shot 38.1 percent from the field, but VanVleet continued his hot streak. In the last four games, he averaged 18.3 points while compiling 21 assists and just one turnover.

Early scored 11 of Wichita State’s first 13 points in the second half. His third 3-pointer in a 5-minute span gave the Shockers a 43-33 lead with 14:05 remaining.

Northern Iowa cut Wichita State’s lead to 43-39 with 12:17 to play but VanVleet made a jumper with 8:11 remaining and then dribbled past two Panthers and slithered between two more for a winding layup to go up 57-44 with 6:28 remaining.

No. 20 Colorado 100, No. 10 Oregon 91: BOULDER, Colo. — Askia Booker scored a career-high 27 points, 11 in the last 4:40, and Colorado rallied in the second half to hand Oregon its first loss of the season.

Spencer Dinwiddie added 23 points and Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott had 15 points apiece for Colorado (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12), which is off to its best start since the 1968-69 team began the season 13-2. Scott had 12 rebounds for the Buffaloes, who remain unbeaten in 11 home games this season.

Mike Moser had 24 points to lead Oregon (13-1, 1-1), which was denied its first 14-0 start since 1937-38. Joseph Young and Damyean Dotson both added 16 points.

Leading the nation in scoring, Oregon, one of seven unbeaten Division I teams entering the day, could not keep up with Colorado.

Young connected on a 3-pointer for Oregon with 1:24 left but that proved to be the Ducks’ final field goal as Colorado made six of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

No. 11 Villanova 91, Providence 61: VILLANOVA, Pa. — JayVaughn Pinkston scored 19 points and Dylan Ennis had 17 for Villanova.

Pinkston dunked off the opening tip, and the Wildcats (13-1, 2-0 Big East) dominated from there, thrashing the Friars (10-5, 0-2), who beat them twice last season.

The Wildcats opened on a 9-0 run, and hit 10 of their first 11 shots to build a 24-point lead.

The Wildcats were shooting 32 percent from 3-point range this season, but connected with ease in the first half. Darrun Hilliard, Josh Hart and Ennis all hit two to help the Wildcats go 7 of 13 in the first half. They made 14 of 26 overall.

Bryce Cotton scored 25 points and was the lone highlight for the Friars. Cotton made all three 3s in the first half for 16 points.

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