Kansas-San Diego St. Preview
With a January 2014 home defeat to the Aztecs still resonating within the program, the second-ranked Jayhawks try for a ninth consecutive victory in the rematch Tuesday night.
"I could be wrong, but (San Diego State) said this is the hottest ticket that their basketball program has ever had during the regular season," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It's been sold out forever. It'll be a rowdy atmosphere ... I'm excited."
Self never felt his team's 61-57 loss to then-No. 21 San Diego State almost two years ago was an upset, even though the Jayhawks were ranked 16th. It's the last time Kansas (9-1) lost at home to an opponent outside the Big 12, and only its third defeat in 89 nonconference games at Allen Fieldhouse.
Ellis scored four points and teammate Wayne Seldon had six as SDSU held the Jayhawks to a season-low 29.8 percent shooting.
Seldon is averaging a team-high 16.0 points with Ellis right behind at 14.7 entering this matchup. The Jayhawks have averaged 89.5 points and 54.6 percent shooting since making 34.8 percent in a 79-73 loss to then-No. 13 Michigan State on Nov. 17.
However, they're only cautiously confident even though SDSU is 7-5.
The Aztecs again rank among the top defensive teams in the country, allowing 53.7 points and 32.9 percent shooting while going 5-2 at home. It's a natural concern for Self, especially in that environment.
"We need to play a true road game," said Self, whose squad has played in Chicago, Maui and nearby Kansas City. "We need to learn how to do that on the road."
The 31-win SDSU team that won in Lawrence averaged 75.8 points and shot 45.6 percent to go 11-1 in nonconference play. The Aztecs have since averaged 64.6 and 41.2 while going 17-8 outside the Mountain West Conference in the regular season.
That would not seem to bode well against the Jayhawks, who held their last six opponents to 60.8 points and 38.1 percent shooting. Montana shot 24.4 percent in Saturday's 88-46 loss at Allen Fieldhouse.
SDSU might have bottomed out Friday, shooting 31.5 percent in a 52-45 home defeat to Grand Canyon.
"If we go into Kansas like we did (Friday) we'll lose by 50," freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley said. "Unless we want to win the game and make the tournament, we have to change something. We have to change our effort and we have to be better as a group."
Hemsley is the only Aztec averaging in double figures at 13.4 points per game, while senior Winston Shepard is at 8.8 - 2.3 lower than his team-leading average from 2014-15.
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher's team is looking to avoid losing back-to-back home nonconference games for the first time since December 2004.
"We have to boar back, say we're good, and prove that we're good," Fisher said. "We have to prove we are who we say we are. We aren't showing that right now."