Shortened Squad Shows Fight, Falls at No. 15 Oklahoma, 75-73

Box Score

NORMAN, Okla. — Seven times he went to the line in the final 30 seconds. All seven times Frank Mason III delivered. It would take a last-second make from Buddy Hield to finally implant the idea that No. 9/10 Kansas couldn’t pull off the win at No. 15/15 Oklahoma in the regular-season finale. The Jayhawks fell Saturday afternoon inside the Lloyd Noble Center, 75-73.
Kansas (24-7, 13-5) locked up its 11th-straight Big 12 Conference title against West Virginia earlier this week, but head coach Bill Self made it clear that his Jayhawks wouldn’t take their matchup with Oklahoma (21-9, 12-6) lightly, despite its “meaningless” undertone. His lineup, however, was beyond his control. Forced for the third-straight game to sit freshman forward Cliff Alexander, Self was also without the use of Perry Ellis (injury) and Brannen Greene (suspension). Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr., toughed out an ankle sprain to make his 66th-consecutive career start, but was far from full-strength.
Mason ignored the fact that his depleted team had a slim chance of winning. He was the key component in a well-designed, end-game play, one that led to the intended free throws, and proved Self right when he tied the game with four seconds remaining – but the No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners had the final say. Hield’s buzzer beater didn’t actually beat the buzzer. After both teams left the floor, the officials pulled everyone back out to play out the last .02 seconds, which didn’t change the outcome.  
Being short-staffed left plenty of room for new stars to emerge. Sophomore forward Landen Lucas made his first career Big 12 start. He replaced Ellis, who missed the first game of his career on Saturday. With big shoes to fill, Lucas answered the call. He posted his first double-double with career-highs in points (13) and rebounds (12). Junior forward Jamari Traylor went 5-for-6 from the floor for 12 points and added a pair of blocks, while fellow big man Hunter Mickelson swatted two shots, scored five points and pulled down six rebounds.
Feeding off that energy, regulars Mason and Kelly Oubre, Jr., pulled as much weight as possible. Oubre recorded his third double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds – and Mason was Mason. Kansas struggled to hit shots all day, finishing a sub-par 24-of-63, but Mason found a way to lead the floor regardless. He tied his career-high with 21 points and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the line.
Saturday’s matchup was to be a showdown for Big 12 Player of the Year candidates Ellis of Kansas and Hield of Oklahoma. While Kansas played without its leading scorer, Hield responded from 2-of-8 shooting in the first half with a team-high 18 points for the game, including the game winner. Junior guard Isaiah Cousins scored 16 with a game-high four assists. Forwards TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler tallied 13 and nine points, respectively, and Spangler led the Sooners with 11 boards.
The rebounding effort was a tale of two halves as Kansas held a large edge in the first half (31-19) only to be largely outdone in the second (25-13). By game’s end, the two tied with 44 boards apiece.
Lucas settled into his starting role right away with four points and four boards in the first four minutes, helping his depleted squad keep pace. The Jayhawks did a nice job of finding quality shots, but struggled mightily in making them as KU started the game a chilly 3-for-11. Oklahoma was fine with it, hitting seven of its first 10 to crack open a 17-8 advantage. Luckily for the visitors, who dipped into the low 20 percentile, Oklahoma also went cold from the floor, allowing a pair of Mickelson free throws to cut the deficit to five, 19-14.
Sophomore guard Frank Booker broke the shooting spell, pulling up for back-to-back threes to shove the Sooners into gear. Hield followed with a jumper, extending OU’s lead to its largest of the game, 27-16. After an 0-18 Kansas drought from three-point range, Mason snapped the streak with a trey from the top of the key. As if a door had been unlocked, Graham came next with a three and Mason dialed in on another. Nearing the minute mark in the first half, Kansas had sliced OU’s advantage to four. Mickelson, who had a sizable hand in the team’s first-half rebound advantage, yanked down a rebound and was fouled in the process. Two more free throws from the stand-in big man sent the Jayhawks to halftime trailing by just two points, 32-30.  
Comfortable and confident in their alternate lineup, Kansas came out of the lockerroom firing. Lucas tied his career-high with a layup, while Mason and Traylor hooked up for eight-straight points. By the first media timeout, the Jayhawks were right there, 42-40.
Oklahoma had kicked the lead back to five, but defense was the real star. After Graham swiped a pass and took it down the floor for a layup, OU’s Khadeem Lattin was there to swat it away. As the Sooners scooped it up in an attempt to do the same with their own fastbreak, Traylor beat them to it. He was there to block Cousins’ layup, this time resulting in a transition bucket on the other end for Mason.
The defensive toughness translated seamlessly into the offensive side. Oubre muscled his way to the basket and converted on the three-point play to narrow the lead to a single point. On the ensuing possession, Oubre’s steal evolved into a Lucas hook shot – and KU’s first lead of the half – 55-54, with eight minutes to play. A three from Oubre gave the lead a little steam. Hield was equally hot, draining a pull-up three to put his team back in front, 63-61.
The Jayhawks had nothing to lose – and played like it. A shot-clock violation shined yet another light on KU’s defense, but down four with two minutes remaining, Kansas needed to score.
Graham answered this one, nailing a three-pointer to cut the lead to a single point, 67-66. OU’s Ryan Spangler negated it with a put-back layup, but Kansas was still within a possession. Traylor went to the bench with five fouls, OU went to the free throw line four times, but Kansas refused to bow out. Down by five, Mason stayed calm and hit both free throws to keep Kansas within three.  
Oubre challenged Hield and came away with the biggest steal of the game, returning the ball to his team with 14 seconds on the clock. Again, Mason was fouled. Again, he delivered. Kansas now within one, 71-70. OU point guard Jordan Woodard answered with two free throws of his own, setting up the play for Mason. Lucas caught the perfect inbounds pass from Selden and pitched it to Mason behind the three-point line. Immediately, Mason put up a shot, was fouled and made all three freebies.
A missed layup from Woodard kept hope alive, but overtime was not to be. In one swift motion, Hield grabbed the rebound and laid it back in for the win, 75-73.
Kansas will next play in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 11-14, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. As the No. 1 seed, Kansas will play its first game on Thursday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m., on ESPN2. KU will play the winner of the No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 TCU contest to be played March 11. Kansas has won 13 conference postseason tournament titles, including nine in the Big 12.

KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts):
So. G Frank Mason, III (31/34), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (31/66), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (22/22), Jr. F Jamari Traylor (17/18), So. F Landen Lucas (9/9)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 142-66

ATTENDANCE: 12,104 (12,000 capacity)

  • Marked the first time in 10 years that the Jayhawks dropped three-straight regular-season conference road games. Toward the end of the 2004-05 season, Kansas lost at Texas Tech (79-80 2OT, 2/14/05), at Oklahoma (63-71, 2/21/05) and at Missouri (68-72, 3/6/05).
  • Made Kansas 24-7 overall and 13-5 in Big 12 play, its lowest conference win total since going 13-3 in 2005-06.
  • Dented the Kansas all-time series advantage against Oklahoma to 142-66 in favor of KU, including 50-42 in Norman.
  • Moved Self to 349-76 while at Kansas, 14-5 against Oklahoma (14-3 while at KU) and 556-181 overall.
  • Made KU 2,150-829 all-time.


  • Kansas was a brutal 10-for-37 (27 percent) in the first half, but kept pace with the Sooners with its potent rebounding advantage. The Jayhawks pulled down 31 rebounds in a half, the most since grabbing 37 in the opening frame against Missouri (1/25/10).
  • In the first half, Kansas made 10-of-37 field goals, but grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. Of KU’s 10 made field goals all but three of them were the result of an offensive board.
  • The Jayhawks’ 14 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes are more than KU has had overall in 22-of-31 games played this season.
  • KU’s 30-32 halftime deficit marked the fourth-straight game that the Jayhawks have trailed at halftime. This is the first time a KU team in the Bill Self era has trailed out-right in four consecutive games.
  • Kansas has not trailed at halftime in four-straight games since the 1993-94 season when it surrendered a 30-28 lead at Kansas State on Feb. 12, 30-26 at Oklahoma State on Feb. 16, 39-34 vs. Missouri Feb. 20 and 58-34 at Nebraska on Feb. 23, 1994 after the first 20 minutes of play.
  • In the last four-straight games trailing after the first session Kansas is 2-2, while in 1994 the Jayhawks were 1-3 in such contests.
  • Sophomore F Landen Lucas and freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., each turned in a double-double, the first time two Kansas players have reached a double-double in a game since Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor each had double figure totals in two columns against Eastern Kentucky on March 21, 2014.
  • Sophomore G Frank Mason III drained KU’s first three-pointer with 4:40 remaining in the first half, snapping a lengthy three-point drought for the Jayhawks. Mason was also the last Jayhawk to connect from three-point range, hitting his last in the second half against Texas (2/28) with 6:32 remaining in the game. In all, KU went 73 minutes and 48 seconds without a three and was 0-for-18 in that span.


  • Sophomore G Frank Mason III scored in double figures for the 27th time this season with a team-best 21 points, tying his career high. That’s the seventh time this year that he’s led KU in points and the second time he’s done so in back-to-back games (vs. Oklahoma State, at Iowa State).
  • With less than five minutes to play, Mason is the man at the line. Not only is he shooting 80.3 percent for the season, with less than five minutes to play – Mason is a team-best 48-of-58 (82.3).
  • Sophomore F Landen Lucas tallied his first career double-double with career-highs in points (13), rebounds (12) and minutes (33). His six field goals (6-of-8) were a career-best, while his two assists tied his best output. Six of his boards were on the offensive glass, also a career-high.
  • Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., was in double-figures for the 14th time this year and came up with his third career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Oubre’s two steals are his team-best 13th time that he’s logged multiple steals in a game.
  • Junior F Jamari Traylor tallied consecutive games scoring in double-figures for the second time this season. Ten of Traylor’s 12 points came in the second half.
  • Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson played a KU career-high 20 minutes. He tied his KU-best in blocks (2) and pulled down six boards, his best in Big 12 play.
  • For the first time in his three years at Kansas, junior F Perry Ellis did not check into the game. Head coach Bill Self announced earlier in the week that a sprained knee would keep him sidelined for Saturday’s contest. He played 102-consecutive games prior to his injury.
  • Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., nearly endured the same fate. An ankle injury in the West Virginia game (3/3) had him listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, but he made his 66th-straight start although he played a season-low 18 minutes.
  • Freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored two points on Saturday, his first points since January (3 at TCU, 1/28/15). The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.