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Kansas defeats Oklahoma, 73-63

  • 8 p.m., Feb. 27, 2017
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Monday, February 27, 2017

Jayhawks’ Senior Night goes from sluggish to spectacular

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up the Fieldhouse during the Jayhawks' comeback run in the second half, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up the Fieldhouse during the Jayhawks' comeback run in the second half, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The West Virginia comeback it was not, but there sure were moments when it looked — and sounded — like it.

After a sloppy and sluggish 30 minutes of basketball against last-place Oklahoma, No. 1 Kansas woke up in a big way and buried the Sooners, 73-63, with a suffocating 31-9 surge to the finish line on Senior Night.

“I told our guys, ‘We’re running out of time,’” said KU coach Bill Self after the emotional night. “These guys are confident, but I think they think that, whatever the situation, they can flip the switch, which is a bad trait. You get behind like this in a game that really matters and you may not and probably can’t.... But defense sparked it, and we could run in transition and, when we ran, we were pretty good.”

The wake-up call that came just in time improved Kansas to 27-3 overall, 15-2 in Big 12 play and set the stage for three Senior Night speeches from Landen Lucas, Frank Mason III and Tyler Self that would not have been the same had Kansas not found its footing in time to avoid what would have been an embarrassing and difficult-to-swallow home loss.

“I don’t think I would’ve even wanted to give one if we had lost,” said Lucas, who finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes.

The victory marked KU’s 34th consecutive win in its home finale, dating back to the 1983-84 season and may not have come had it not been for Lucas and fellow-senior Mason, who combined to bookend KU’s run with spectacular and subtle plays that ignited the Kansas comeback.

The first play came after a miss by OU, when Lucas fought to quickly gather the rebound and fired a bullet of an outlet pass to Mason, who drove hard to the rim for a three-point play. Later, with KU suddenly leading 69-62, Mason broke the defense down and floated a lob to Lucas, who finished with a two-handed slam.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks KU seniors, finding offense late vs. OU

Following a long Senior Night at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self takes questions from the media regarding KU seniors Frank Mason III, Landen Lucas and Tyler Self, and gets into how the Jayhawks recovered offensively down the stretch to top Oklahoma.

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It wasn’t always so pretty. In fact, Self, forever looking at things through a coach’s eye, joked about an overall bad night being viewed through crimson-colored glasses because of the outcome, and Senior Night festivities predetermined smiles for everyone.

“That’s about as poor as I think we’ve played,” Self said of the first half before adding, “(The) halftime talk was so good that we go from being tied to down 12.”

After an ugly first 20 minutes that saw the two teams tied at 28 at halftime, Oklahoma (10-19, 4-13) opened the second half right where it started the first — by scoring at will and forcing Kansas into some ugly and uncharacteristic mistakes.

Down 12 midway through the second half, the Jayhawks woke up and started competing as if they hadn’t already won the Big 12 title and something truly was on the line.

Of course, at Kansas, especially in Allen Fieldhouse, something is always on the line, and it was the pride from the players on the floor and the mind-numbing noise from the fans in the stands that helped Kansas make their run.

“We just got the No. 1 ranking in the country and I think we were playing for that most of all tonight,” said senior Tyler Self, who started and played three minutes before enjoying a late curtain call in the final seconds. “We don’t want to lose that the first night having it. That’s something we want to keep for the rest of the year.”

More spurts like the final eight minutes and it might just happen.

First was a layup from Mason with 9:40 to play. KU’s leading scorer struggled to shoot the ball all night but scored when he needed to. On the ensuing inbounds pass, the Jayhawks flashed a little pressure, a la the West Virginia comeback from 14 down in the final 2:58, and Mason came away with a steal and immediate assist to sophomore Lagerald Vick (11 points) for one of his three 3-pointers in three attempts. That pulled the Jayhawks within four, at 56-52, and sent the Fieldhouse faithful into a frenzy during the home finale.

From there, KU’s defense stiffened even more, first forcing OU to call timeout on an inbounds attempt and, seconds later, forcing a five-second call.

“I wish we could pressure like that all the time,” Self said. “You can’t, playing that many minutes, but we certainly picked our spots and really, really guarded down the stretch.”

Freshman Josh Jackson (11 points, 12 rebounds and 8 turnovers) followed up the tough “D” with a hard-driving, up-and-under layup down the lane and, all of a sudden, after a 14-4 run, KU trailed by just two, 58-56 with 6:50 to play.

Digging even deeper into its bag of tricks, KU forced a shot-clock violation on OU’s next possession and then got back-to-back 3-pointers from Devonte’ Graham (16 points, 4-of-8 from 3) in the corner opposite of KU’s bench to blow the roof off of things and give Kansas a 62-58 lead.

A Mason bucket after another KU stop put Kansas up six and pushed the knockout run to 22-4, from trailing 54-42 to leading 64-58.

From that point, things were merely a formality and Kansas cruised to an easy-on-the-scoreboard victory as fans serenaded Mason with chants of “M-V-P, M-V-P” in the final home game of his career.

“That’s all great,” said Mason, who led KU with 23 points and six assists. “But, with me, it’s all about the team. I’d rather win a national championship than be named player of the year.”

Kansas will close the regular season at 5 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma State.

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oklahoma


Comments

Bryce Landon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

That first 32 minutes of the game was a comedy of errors by KU - and it wasn't funny. That was bang-your-head-on-the-wall frustrating. It was as bad as the game at Texas Christian in 2013. We were losing on our home floor to a last-place team. We were getting outplayed, outhustled and outcoached.

And then the Jayhawks finally pulled their heads out of their butts, decided enough was enough, and opened up a can of whoop-ass on the Sooners. In the last 8 minutes, KU played some of the best defense it has played all year and got clicking on offense, and saved the day.

Glad for the win, and glad the seniors were able to end their Allen Fieldhouse careers on the right note. But KU should never have been in a position to need a comeback to beat OU.

RJ King 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Think of it as cleansing. Sometimes a team just needs to get the toxins out of their system. Hopefully we're clear now for the run ahead.

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Just a note.

Frank Mason needs to have 12-7-3 against OSU to close the regular season averaging 20.0-5.0-4.0

I know that he will do whatever it takes to win the game, and I don't think that his POy candidacy has too very much to do with hitting those specific numbers, but I jealously want him to be the first Big 12 player ever to average 20 pts and 5 assists on the year. I know that that also requires him to maintain those averages in the postseason.

Also, I am hoping something knows definitively on this, but I think that the Big 12 awards are voted on at the conclusion of the regular season, and the national awards are voted on after all of the conference tournaments are finished, is this correct?

So the national POY won't be decided until after the Big 12 tourney. I wonder how much his candidacy for NPOY depends on KU winning the Big 12 tourney. If the decision is that close, I would think that it could be a factor. If KU loses in the big 12 tourney and Nova (for example) wins out, then it could give an edge to Josh Hart. Not sure if it's right or wrong, but I could see that being a factor nonetheless.

Harlan Hobbs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Defense wins championships. When KU defends like they did in the comebacks against WVU and OU, they are definitely as good as anyone in the country.

Chris DeWeese 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Kinda sad that so many on Twitter are saying the B12 is a weak conference, which is why KU has won 13 straight titles. Have they not seen any B12 games?

Shannon Gustafson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Half of the population has a below average IQ, a very small portion of people outside the B12 watch B12 games, and a large portion of the population are just haters, period. Nothing more to it than that. Stating facts that show the B12 has been one of the best regular season conferences the last 5 years won't change their mind since their opinions aren't based on facts anyway.

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