University of Kansas

Frankly amazing: No. 1 Kansas blitzes Oklahoma in final minutes for 73-63 victory

Kansas guard Frank Mason shoots over Oklahoma guard Christian James during Monday night’s first half in Lawrence.
Kansas guard Frank Mason shoots over Oklahoma guard Christian James during Monday night’s first half in Lawrence. AP

KU coach Bill Self said he hopes guard Frank Mason can land a national player of the year award.

The new No. 1 team in college basketball had trouble playing to its ranking for much of Monday night, which didn’t seem to matter much by the end of the evening.

Big 12 regular-season champion Kansas, which ascended to the top spot Monday afternoon for the first time this season, committed 11 turnovers and missed seven free throws in 15 tries the first half and trailed by as many as 12 points the second half, before rallying to claim a 73-63 victory over Oklahoma in what turned out to be another festive senior night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Monday’s box score

Devonté Graham cashed three three-pointers in an astounding 25-6 run that helped KU (27-3, 15-2) rally from a 54-42 deficit at 10:13 and forge a 67-60 lead with four minutes to play. The run — it lasted all the way til the end of the game as KU closed 31-9 — had Allen Fieldhouse rocking, the fans forgetting some lackluster play that caused the 12-point deficit, for sure.

Oklahoma, without any timeouts, was powerless to stop the surge.

Lagerald Vick had two threes in the game-breaking surge and Frank Mason, who heard chants of “MVP, MV,P” and Josh Jackson four points apiece.

“How ’bout your Jayhawks. We slept-walked for 32 minutes. We finally woke up. You saw what the kids can do when their backs are against the wall. We may not always play the best but there’s no team tougher than the University of Kansas,” coach Bill Self told the fans after the game.

The Jayhawks, who were tied with the Sooners (10-19, 4-13), 28-28, at the break, and down 54-42 with 10:13 left, secured their seventh straight victory overall, 16th in a row over OU in Lawrence and 34th consecutive victory in a home finale.

That includes 33 senior days, dating to the 1983-84 contest. KU had no seniors on the roster in 2006-07.

Kansas guard Frank Mason said he doesn't think about individual honors, just making KU better.

Seniors Mason (23 points), Landen Lucas (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Tyler Self (no points, 3 minutes) who were introduced with their parents and accorded standing ovations before the game, were to deliver individual speeches after the contest per KU tradition. Graham finished with 16 points and Jackson 11 points and 12 boards.

KU wound up hitting 12 of 20 free throws and 50 percent of its shots to OU’s 34.9 percent. Kameron McGusty had 14 for the Sooners.

Self, a fifth-year non-scholarship player, started his first game as a Jayhawk. He played the first 3 minutes, 27 seconds, leaving with KU trailing, 7-0. The 6-foot-2 Self had one foul, but no other stats in that early stint. Mason was 0-for-4 in that stretch.

The first half was mighty ugly as the teams were tied, 28-28, at the break. KU went 8 of 15 from the free throw line while hitting 34.8 percent of its floor shots. The Jayhawks suffered an unsightly 11 turnovers, Josh Jackson committing five and Mason three.

Mason had eight points and Graham seven in the half. OU hit 8 of 32 floor shots for an anemic 25 percent. The Sooners did drill 10 of 11 free throw tries while committing eight turnovers.

Khadeem Lattin led OU with eight points.

Down 12-5, KU used an 11-4 run to knot the score at 16 with 9:03 left before half. Devonté Graham hit two free throws, Landen Lucas an inside shot, then two free throws, Lagerald Vick a three and Mason two free throws in the surge. Mason hit back-to-back threes to give KU a 24-22 lead at 6:31.

Oklahoma came out the second half and used a 21-11 run to build a 49-39 lead at 11:35. The extended the advantage to 54-42 at 10:13.

Down 12, the Jayhawks finally responded, slicing the gap to 58-56 at 6:33 following a 14-4 run. Mason scored, Vick hit a three, Jackson slammed off an inbounds pass from Mason and Vick hit another three. Then Lucas and Jackson scored to cut it to one. Graham hit back to back threes followed by a bucket by Mason and another three by Graham, the fans witnessing yet another wild KU comeback.

KU will next meet Oklahoma State at 5 p.m., Saturday, in Stillwater.

Senior superlatives

KU coach Self commented on KU’s three seniors during his pre-game spot on the Jayhawk radio network.

“This group has been special,” he said. “Tyler has meant much more to the program than what anybody knows, much like Evan (Manning, walk-on who graduated last year) last year. They’ve had a unique way to put their handprint over everything. Tyler’s done that in a big way.

KU senior Landen Lucas says farewell after the Jayhawks' 73-63 Senior Night victory over Oklahoma on Feb. 27, 2017, at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Landen was not highly recruited. He came here (and) we hoped he could end up being a guy to help us in time. He ends up starting 2 1/2 years. Everyone knows how important and how valuable he is. We knew Frank was a good player when we got him. We had no idea he’d blossom and mature to be in position to be a national player of the year candidate, strong candidate, late in his senior season. Even more than that, how he’s grown off the court is just remarkable.”

Mason needs to pass two classes this semester to graduate in four years. Lucas and Self have graduated and are working on MBAs.

“It’s been a good athletic achievement class, good off the court as well,” Bill Self said.

KU senior point man Frank Mason delivers his farewell speech to a packed Allen Fieldhouse after the Jayhawks beat OU 73-63.

The No. 1 ranking

KU’s coach addressed being ranked No. 1 before the game.

“Well, it really doesn’t mean a ton, but it means more at the end of February than it does at the beginning of January obviously, because you are closer to the finish line,” Self said. “These guys have performed at a pretty consistent level for the most part all year long.

“Of course we’ve had our moments where we weren’t very good, but for the most part they’ve competed and tried real hard. For this to happen and happen on a Monday which happens to be your last home game and Senior Night, I think it adds a little bit to the excitement.”

Of KU’s position for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, at least entering the last week of the regular season, Self said: “Certainly we can stay a No. 1-seed because I think right now we could be for sure. The only way we’ll stay it is if we continue to play well and have success on the court.”

KU coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks shouldn't rely on flipping a switch to play well.

No. 1 KANSAS 73, OKLAHOMA 63

Oklahoma

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Doolittle

--

4-9

4-4

5

0

1

12

Lattin

--

4-7

4-5

6

1

3

12

McGusty

--

6-17

0-0

2

0

1

14

Odomes

--

0-7

1-2

8

3

3

1

Strong-Moore

--

3-7

0-0

4

2

2

7

James

--

1-5

4-4

1

0

1

6

Shepherd

--

0-3

0-0

0

0

2

0

McNeace

--

3-5

2-2

4

0

4

8

Buford

--

1-3

0-0

2

0

1

3

Totals

200

22-63

15-17

32

6

18

63

Percentages: FG .349, FT .882. 3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (McGusty 2-5, Buford 1-1, Strong-Moore 1-3, Doolittle 0-1, James 0-2, Shepherd 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 13 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Lattin 2, McGusty, McNeace, Shepherd). Turnovers: 13 (Strong-Moore 3, Buford 2, James 2, McGusty 2, Odomes 2, McNeace, Shepherd). Steals: 10 (McGusty 4, Odomes 2, Buford, James, Lattin, Shepherd). Technical Fouls: None.

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Lucas

28

3-3

2-2

8

3

3

8

Graham

39

5-10

2-2

3

2

1

16

Jackson

33

5-8

1-5

12

1

3

11

Mason

39

8-17

5-7

3

6

1

23

Self

3

0-0

0-0

0

0

1

0

Vick

22

4-6

0-0

4

0

2

11

Mykhailiuk

18

1-4

0-0

0

0

2

2

Bragg

--

0-3

1-2

5

0

1

1

Coleby

--

0-1

1-2

1

0

2

1

Totals

200

26-52

12-20

36

12

16

73

Percentages: FG .500, FT .600. 3-Point Goals: 9-19, .474 (Graham 4-8, Vick 3-3, Mason 2-5, Jackson 0-1, Mykhailiuk 0-2). Team Rebounds: 1. Team Turnovers: 19 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Lucas 2, Bragg, Mason). Turnovers: 19 (Jackson 8, Mason 4, Bragg 2, Graham 2, Lucas 2, Mykhailiuk). Steals: 7 (Mason 3, Bragg, Graham, Jackson, Mykhailiuk). Technical Fouls: None.

Oklahoma

28

35

63

Kansas

28

45

73

A: 16,300 (16,300).

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