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Mejia gets hot as DePaul topples Kansas

Dec 2, 2006 - 9:39 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- After a difficult trip to the Hawaiian islands, it looks like a return home was what Sammy Mejia and DePaul needed to jump start their season.

Mejia scored 23 points and the Blue Demons used a late spurt to overcome some cold early shooting and post a 64-57 victory over fifth-ranked Kansas.

DePaul had played just one home game this season and dropped two of three contests at the Maui Invitational. Coming in 2-4, the Blue Demons were an early-season disappointment and it looked like they would stay that way before Mejia stepped up.

"I told our kids that we have been called everything from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and we have been a up and down team," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "We have to even out our play. I told them treat this as our first game of the season and they really responded."

Kansas (6-2) led by as many as 14 and held a 53-45 lead with 4:18 to play before a costly mistake fueled a DePaul run. Karron Clarke was fouled on a 3-pointer and he converted all three free throws to cut the deficit to five. Wilson Chandler added a basket to make it 53-50 and then Mejia took over.

"It was one of the plays that did (change momentum)," Kansas coach Bill Self said of Clarke's free throws. "It was a bad play by a veteran player, it gave them some momentum but wasn't the thing that turned the whole game around."

Mejia buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 53-53 with 2:55 remaining. He connected again from the arc 44 seconds later to making it 56-53, giving the Blue Demons (3-4) their first lead since it was 11-10 with 11:35 to play in the first half.

"Sammy played like a senior and I was happy for him," Wainwright said. "It was nice to see him do what he need to do, when it mattered."

Another basket by Mejia with 1:18 to go made it 58-53 and the Jayhawks never got closer than four down the stretch.

"I decided to be more aggressive in the second half," Mejia said. "The first half, things didn't go my way. I just stayed with it and got our juices flowing. I have been in these types of games before and I let myself get into it and I produced better."

Mario Chalmers scored 15 points for Kansas, which led 26-17 at the half and had won all seven matchups against DePaul entering Saturday.

The Blue Demons seemed content on making it eight straight losses to the Jayhawks early on. They made three of their first four shots to take an 8-6 lead but finished the first half 6-of-23 (26 percent).

"We were lucky to be up nine at halftime," Self said. "The second half we got it to 12, I think, and it could have been 16. At that time we didn't capitalize and they starting playing well. Then they took advantage of us playing poorly."

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