Stillwater, Okla. In his four years at Kansas, point guard Frank Mason III has accomplished much for the Jayhawks. But he never had experienced a win at Oklahoma State. Until Saturday night.
Displaying the type of toughness and ability to come through with crucial plays that have defined his stellar senior year, Mason led No. 1 KU to a 90-85 victory by doing it all.
The 5-foot-11 senior from Petersburg, Va., not only led all scorers with 27 points, Mason battled for eight rebounds and set up his teammates with nine assists, allowing Kansas to enter the postseason in style.
The Jayhawks (28-3 overall, 16-2 Big 12) broke a three-game losing streak for the program at Gallagher-Iba Arena, and achieved 16 league wins for the third time in its history.
View a gallery of images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Cowboys at
Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self discusses with media members the Jayhawks' 90-85 victory to close the regular season. KU won its 13th regular-season title by 4 games.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks had the veteran experience to handle a second-half push from the Pokes.
OSU (20-11, 9-9) took a one-point lead less than two minutes after intermission on a Phil Forte 3-pointer, and KU countered with two Mason baskets and a Josh Jackson (17 points) jam.
When Oklahoma State tied the game at 55 on another Forte 3-pointer with 15:01 left, the Jayhawks again showed no signs of panic. Mason nailed a 3-pointer and scored some free throws, and soon after layups from Mason and Carlton Bragg (11 points) had built the lead back up to seven.
Mason, Graham and senior Landen Lucas (10 points, seven rebounds) helped the less experienced members of the roster close with poise, and KU finished the season 10-1 in true road games.
• Offensive highlight: As he so often does, Jackson came through with the most jaw-dropping displays of athleticism for Kansas.
In the first half, Mason softly placed a precise lob near the rim and, of course, his high-flying freshman teammate knew just what to do. Jackson took off from the left baseline to flush a dunk that built KU’s lead to 30-22.
Later, Jackson one-upped himself in the opening minutes of the second half. With Mason set on trying to silence a rowdy OSU crowd, the veteran point guard drove into the heart of the paint just to draw the Cowboys’ defense attention, knowing all along he had Jackson waiting for him on the right baseline if he needed him. When Mason waited until the perfect moment to dish, Jackson hammered home a characteristically nasty jam, helping KU extend its narrow advantage to three at the time.
• Defensive highlight: One key development for KU in its final true road game of the season turned out to be some signs of focus on defense from sophomore Bragg, who has had issues with consistency on both ends of the floor this season.
The locked-in Bragg first emerged in transition near the midway point of the first half, when he sprinted back to stop the ball, as Brandon Averette had visions of a wide-open layup playing in his mind’s eye. The KU forward’s hustle allowed fellow sophomore sub Lagerald Vick to race down and catch up, and swat away a potential layup.
Later, Bragg ran the floor to get back on defense again, and picked up the personal reward of a blocked shot. The backup big raced to the paint to swat an Averette lay-in out of play (though wasn’t credited for a block by the official stat-keepers).
• Key stat: Points in the paint. Sure, the Jayhawks did a nice job of knocking down open 3-pointers (9-for-21), too, but making OSU pay for defensive breakdowns with buckets inside paved the way for a tough road win.
KU scored 30 points on layups, eight on dunks, and out-scored the Cowboys 42-28 in the paint.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will head to Kansas City, Mo., for the Big 12 Tournament, with the quarterfinals beginning on Thursday. KU will face the winner of a Wednesday matchup between Oklahoma and TCU.