A rough nonconference slate for the No. 16 Kansas Jayhawks got a little bit rougher on Sunday, Jan. 5, when they fell at home to the 21st-ranked San Diego State Aztecs, 61-57.
Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury News tweeted upon the score going final, breaking down the enormity of the Jayhawks' loss:
San Diego State led for the game's final 32 minutes, but it was tested heavily in the closing moments. The Aztecs saw a double-digit lead in the second half dwindle down to just two with 11 seconds remaining.
Perry Ellis got to the foul line with the chance to tie it up at 57 apiece, only to miss the second free throw.
The Aztecs hit both of their free throws on the other end and, with a three-point lead, fouled Kansas guard Frank Mason before he could get off a game-tying shot at the buzzer. After Mason went 1-of-2 from the line, bringing the score to 59-57, San Diego State got back to the charity stripe to clinch the win.
Kansas freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins has been more aggressive offensively as of late, and this game marked the sixth straight time he finished with double-digit shot totals. But he wasn't efficient from the field, finishing 4-of-14 with 14 points and five boards.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman couldn't help but notice Wiggins' inability to produce in the final moments:
Wiggins talked about the loss via the Associated Press: "I think everybody, we all missed shots we usually make, and that's going to happen from time to time with a young team."
Allen Fieldhouse received a test from the opening moments. The Aztecs came in sporting defensive intensity that stifled the Jayhawks offense in half-court sets. Bill Self's squad was playing from behind for much of the opening half.
A defensive struggle went both ways, as the two teams went into halftime with a low score of 29-23 in favor of the Aztecs.
But a balanced scoring output propelled San Diego State into the second half, with Xavier Thames (16), Skylar Spencer (13) and Josh Davis (10) all having success.
The Aztecs withstood an onslaught of Kansas runs that threatened the lead many times, and despite the Jayhawks getting within a point of tying things up in the final minutes, they were never able to get there.
Joel Embiid notched a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and he and Wiggins combined to hit 12 of their 14 free-throw attempts. But it wasn't enough.
The chances were there in the final few minutes to take over the game, but as CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello noted, the Jayhawks just didn't have a flow offensively:
Improving to 12-1 on the season, San Diego State now has its signature win of the season thus far heading into a Mountain West slate that has already begun with a win for the Aztecs. This will do wonders for Steve Fisher's team when March arrives and they're up for a tournament bid.
On the other end, Kansas has already seen its fourth defeat in a season filled with national title aspirations. Heading into a sure-to-be-brutal Big 12 slate, USA Today's Dan Wolken wonders if the Jayhawks will be limping into the Big Dance:
Surely 9-4 isn't what Kansas expected to be at this point in the season, but the Jayhawks don't have too much of a reason to worry. This is a team with a lot of young pieces, so struggles along the way were inevitable.
Plus, the Big 12 having so much talent can be seen as dangerous, but it also gives Kansas plenty of opportunities at picking up quality wins that will help the Jayhawks come Selection Sunday.
Breaking their nonconference home streak will be tough for Jayhawk fans, and they won't even have a shot at the Aztecs for a while. When they do, as Andy Katz of ESPN noted, it will be on the road:
Kansas will have to wait two seasons for payback. Contract with San Diego State was set up with Kansas returning to San Diego in 2015-16.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) January 6, 2014
The Jayhawks' Big 12 slate begins on Wednesday, Jan. 8, with a road trip to the Oklahoma Sooners before a rivalry matchup at home against Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 11.
San Diego State has Boise State at home next before traveling to face Air Force.