DePaul Shocks #5 Kansas in Upset

In front of a crowd of 16,922 in Rosemont, that must have been almost half Kansas fans, the DePaul Blue Demons took over the final five minutes of the second half and reminded the Jayhawk faithful that they weren't in Kansas anymore. DePaul's Sammy Mejia dropped 23 points on fifth ranked Kansas in a 64-57 upset for the Blue Demons.

The Kansas Jayhawks took a 26-17 halftime lead over the DePaul Blue Demons men's basketball team by going on a nine point run that closed out the second half. "We were lucky to be up nine at halftime, because we made a couple of threes late," said Kansas coach Bill Self.

"In the first half, we couldn't complain about the defense we played, we held the number five team in the country to 26 points," said Mejia. "We were proud of that."

The Blue Demons continued to be comeback kids as they were a strong second half team in two games in the Maui Invitational in November. DePaul went on a second half surge again in this game. Kansas led by as many as 14 with just over 14 minutes to go in the game. Rather than wilt, DePaul responded with a Wilson Chandler three pointer. "We told our guys, ‘Hey, this has been a second half team,'" Self said. "They've been down before. They were down against Purdue and came back pretty good. They were down big against Kentucky and came back. We knew that they could come back, no doubt about that."

It was Mejia's day as he scored eight straight points during a 14-0 DePaul run late in the game, including the three pointer that tied the game and the following trifecta that put DePaul up for good at 56-53. On the day, Mejia shot 50% from the field including three shots from beyond the arc. Mejia also led all rebounders with eight boards. "Sammy I thought really controlled the second half," Self remarked.

"Sam Mejia played like a senior," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "I couldn't be happier for him. He's given me so much the last year and a quarter. It's good to see him when it really mattered do what he needs to do."

Blue Demons forward Wilson Chandler finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

For the Jayhawks, Mario Chalmers led the way with 15 points. Former Homewood-Flossmoor forward Julian Wright contributed 12 points and freshman Darrell Arthur chipped in with 10.

The Blue Demons shot 46.7% from three point range and outrebounded Kansas 35 to 30.

DePaul sophomore Jabari Currie did not start the game and only played four minutes in the first half, yet provided a siginificant spark off the bench playing 15 minutes in the second half and contributing with four assists. Currie was asked if not starting was a wakeup call for him? "It wasn't really a wakeup call, it was another role for me to play," said Currie. "Whatever coach tells me, I'm going to go out there and try to do it."

In this game, the Blue Demons did the things that matter unlike some of their earlier efforts. "I just think today we did a lot of the little things that we haven't been doing in the past," Mejia observed. "It's just the little things like talking on defense, putting in the extra effort to get a rebound, or to get a loose ball. Those are the difference makers in games."

The Blue Demons benefited from having over a week off to prepare for Kansas, while the Jayhawks had games with defending national champion Florida and Dartmouth. The time off obviously helped DePaul turn things around. "This week of practice was tough," Sammy expressed. "Coach demanded a lot out of us."

What has also helped DePaul improve has been the toughness of some of their early opponents. "We learned," said Mejia. "That's what you can get out of both positive and negative situations. There is always something to learn from what you go through."

Because of opponents like Kentucky and Purdue, DePaul wasn't at all intimidated by the number five team in the nation in this game. "I do think it's helped who we've played now," Wainwright observed. "It's not like it's a shock that we're going against Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur, because Carl Landry (Purdue) is really good, Randolph Morris (Kentucky) is really good. I think that really helped us. Kansas we really respect them, but ‘Coach, we've been playing teams like this'."

DePaul honored former coach Ray Meyer in ceremonies before the game and at halftime. Meyer passed away last March at the age of 92. "On a very special day honoring the real coach at DePaul, the only coach at DePaul," said Wainwright. "Anybody who follows coach Meyer has been a caretaker of the program. What Coach Meyer did was make these kinds of games possible. He made this arena a live arena back in his day. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it especially on Coach Meyer's day."

After opening the season on the road and playing three games in Maui, DePaul is now undefeated in two games at home. "This is our homecourt," said Wainwright. "I thought our kids enjoyed playing at home."

All the Blue Demons have to do is click their heels and say "There is no place like home."

Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information

DePaul (3-4)

- First win over a top-five team since February 6, 1999, a 61-60 overtime win over third-ranked Cincinnati in Rosemont.

- First win over Kansas in the series history. Kansas won last meeting 75-69 on December 12, 2000 at the United Center. Kansas leads the all-time series 7-1.

- Held Kansas to a season-low 57 points. Previous low for Kansas was 64 pts. vs. Ball State on November 24.

- First win of the season after trailing at halftime. Now 1-3 this season when trailing at halftime.

- DePaul is now 2-0 this season when telecast on ESPNU.

- Sammy Mejia scored a season-high 23 points. His previous season-high was 19 vs. Chaminade on November 21. He also tied a season-high eight rebounds, matching his November 17 effort vs. Eastern Illinois.

- DePaul is now 2-3 this season when shooting less than 50%.

- First win of the season when trailing at halftime.

- DePaul trailed 45-51 with 5:00 remaining. First win of the season when trailing with 5:00 remaining.

- Nine-point halftime deficit was the largest overcome this season, surpassing five-point halftime deficit overcome against Kentucky on November 20.

- Jerry Wainwright coaching record improves to 201-130 and is 2-0 against the Jayhawks.

Official Box Score

Postgame Audio

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