Ellis plays ‘the best he’s been,’ KU beats San Diego State 70-57
SAN DIEGO — Perry Ellis and the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks were too much for San Diego State.
For stretches Tuesday night, they were way too much.
Ellis scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and the Jayhawks won 70-57, faltering just a bit in the second half.
A few days ago, coach Bill Self said he thinks Ellis can be an All-American.
"This was the best he’s been," Self said. "I’ll be real candid with you. We’ve said all along he’s been OK. But he hasn’t been great by any stretch. But I thought tonight was the most aggressive he’d been all year long. Hopefully, that’s a big step in the right direction because we’re going to have to play through him. He’s going to have to be a low-post scorer for us."
Kansas (10-1) outmatched the Aztecs (7-6) from the start and took a 16-point lead with 4 minutes before halftime.
SDSU closed within four points twice in the second half. Each time, though, Kansas used its talent and size advantages to pull away.
Ellis had scored all 14 of his first-half points just more than 11 minutes in. His 3-pointer with 8:52 before halftime gave the Jayhawks a 26-13 lead. He had another 3-pointer earlier, as well as an assortment of other jumpers.
Ellis said Self is "always challenging me and that’s making me a better player. So I try to come out and attack and good things will happen knocking down some shots."
The Jayhawks took San Diego State’s loud crowd out of the game by dominating early.
KU’s biggest lead was 35-19 after a fallaway jumper by Frank Mason III. It was 39-27 at halftime.
Mason scored 12 points and Wayne Selden Jr. and Devonte’ Graham had 10 apiece for the Jayhawks, whose only loss was to No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 17.
Zylan Cheatham scored 12 and Jeremy Hemsley 10 for SDSU, which was coming off a stunning home loss to Grand Canyon, which is in just its third year in Division I.
"We played a team tonight that there’s nobody, in my opinion, in the country better than," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. "They’re good in so many ways. They’re well-coached and they can run body after body after body on you, and not lose, and usually gain, a step when they go to the bench."
San Diego State came out with more energy in the second half, getting back into the game with dunks by Skylar Spencer and Cheatham, and a jumper by Winston Shepard that made it 41-33.
The Aztecs then closed to 43-39 after Shepard and Cheatham each made two free throws.
SDSU could have pulled within a basket but Hemsley missed a layup after stealing the ball, and Shepard missed a dunk attempt off the rebound.
Jamari Traylor made two free throws for Kansas before Spencer had a slam dunk to once again get the Aztecs within four.
That was as close as they’d get. Selden hit a 3-pointer and then made a layup, and Brannen Greene hit a 3-pointer for a 53-41 lead with 10:06 to go.
"They cut it to four and we really hunkered down and defended and got some stops and pushed the lead back," Ellis said.
KU held SDSU to 37 percent shooting while making 42.6 percent of its shots.
"Effort and energy and playing hard were no issue," Fisher said. "Making baskets and getting enough baskets were the issue. We made a nice run to start the second half, cut it to four, and like really good teams do — really good teams — they took a hard hit, took a left hand to the head, but came back themselves with a 1-2-3 on us."
Kansas: This was the Jayhawks’ first true road game. They are 4-1 in neutral-site games.
San Diego State: The Aztecs couldn’t duplicate their 61-57 upset victory at Kansas on Jan. 5, 2014.
Kansas hosts UC Irvine next Tuesday night.
San Diego State hosts Wyoming next Wednesday night in a Mountain West Conference opener.
- Brannen Greene
- FOX Sports Kansas City
- Frank Mason III
- Jamari Traylor
- Jeremy Hemsley
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Perry Ellis
- San Diego State Aztecs
- Skylar Spencer
- Wayne Selden Jr.
- Winston Shepard
- Zylan Cheatham