No. 4 Kansas Withstands Harvard Rally, 75-69

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Frank Mason III scored 21 points, including eight points in the last five minutes, as No. 4 Kansas escaped a second-half rally from Harvard on Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, 75-69.

“We had some individuals that didn’t have great games, but as a team I don’t think we played awful today,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “We need to be more competitive in certain situations. I’m not discouraged at all. We got the ball exactly where we wanted it, but we missed a lot of free throws that could have made the game less interesting late.”

Mason shot 7-of-11 from the field with five assists and four steals to lead the Jayhawks (6-1) in the first-ever game against Harvard (2-6). The junior guard made his second 3-pointer of the day with 4:32 remaining in regulation to put Kansas up by seven, 67-60, and later iced the game for KU by making 5-of-6 free throws in the last two-and-a-half minutes.

Junior forward Landen Lucas came off the bench to pull down a game-high eight rebounds, including four offensive boards, in 24 minutes.

“Landen was by-far the best player in the game because he did a great of defending number-four (Zena Edosomwan),” Self said. “Edosomwan was a monster out there. We would love to have him on our roster, and Landen did great job of defending him down low.”

Senior forward Perry Ellis and junior guard Devonte’ Graham added 12 points each for the Jayhawks.

Kansas shot 47 percent from the field, but were plagued by 52 percent shooting at the free throw line as Harvard chipped away at KU’s largest lead – 16 points in the first half. Kansas drained eight shots in a row during a 17-5 run in the first half before going into the locker room with a 38-29 lead.

The Jayhawks came out of halftime by scoring four points in less than 40 seconds, but the offensive pace slowed as leading scorer Wayne Selden Jr., committed his fourth foul at the 13:14 mark. Selden finished with a season-low nine points but continued his streak of at least two 3-pointers in all of KU’s seven games this season.

The Crimson tied the game at 56 with 7:35 remaining in the second half on a pair of free throws from Weisner Perez.

With a tied score, Ellis wasted no time to fuel a 5-0 run to give KU the go-ahead lead with a three-point play and isolation drive for two. Ensuing 3-pointers from Mason and Graham gave Kansas a 67-60 lead with under five minutes to play.

The Crimson cut into KU’s lead once more, trailing by three with 28 seconds remaining, before Mason closed the game out at the free throw line.

Zena Edosomwan finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes to lead the Crimson, who are in the middle of playing seven games away from home.

Kansas returns to action next Wednesday against Holy Cross at Allen Fieldhouse. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and will be televised live by Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and ESPN3.


KU STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER STARTS): Jr. G Frank Mason, III (7/46), So. G Devonte Graham (7/7), Jr. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (7/78), Sr. F Perry Ellis (7/78), Sr. F Jamari Traylor (7/26)
SERIES INFO: Kansas won the first meeting between the two programs. 
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (230th-consecutive sellout)

• Kept Kansas undefeated in 15 games against the Ivy League.
• Made Kansas 96-4 against non-conference opponents in Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era. 
• Gave KU its 27th-straight win in Allen Fieldhouse, which is the eighth-longest streak in school history. 
• Move KU to 731-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse, including 193-9 under Self.
• Improved Self to 358-79 while at Kansas and 656-184 all-time.
• Advanced KU to 2,159-832 all-time. 

• Kansas drained eight shots in a row during the first half to lead by as many as 16. The eight consecutive makes marked KU’s second longest streak of the season, having made 10 in a row during the second half against Chaminade.
• Kansas scored just 38 points in the first half but led by nine at the break. It was the Jayhawks second-lowest first-half offensive output this season and lowest since being held to 26 points in the first half against Vanderbilt. The Jayhawks are averaging 44.3 first half points per game through seven contests.
• KU launched just 14 threes, the fewest attempted by the Jayhawks in a game this season. Kansas is shooting 45.5 percent (65-for-143) from deep this year.
• Kansas’s 41 total rebounds and 21 defensive rebounds were the team’s fewest in a game this season. 
• Kansas logged a season-best 11 steals and was able to convert 19 total Harvard turnovers into 16 points. 

• Junior guard Frank Mason III led all scorers and tied his career-high with 21 points. It was his first time leading the Jayhawks in scoring this season but 11th leading performance of his career. It was Mason’s first 20-point game this season and fourth of his career. Mason also added five assists and four steals, also team-bests.
• Senior forward Perry Ellis grabbed four rebounds to move into KU’s all-time top 20. He passed Greg Dreiling – 650 from 1984-86 – and has 652 career boards. Ellis’ next target on the list is current Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (2009-11) at 662.
• Ellis added 12 points to tie sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham for second on the squad. Ellis has scored in double figures in six of the Jayhawks’ seven contests this season and 61 times in his 78 career appearances. 
• Graham chipped in four rebounds, three assists and three steals. 
• Junior forward Landen Lucas led the Jayhawks with eight rebounds and continues to pace the team in rebounds per game as a reserve player. 


Bill Self
On his overall thoughts of the game:
“I actually thought we played pretty good. We got the ball exactly where we wanted it. We missed a lot of free throws that could have made the game less interesting late. We executed pretty good. We had some individuals that didn’t have great games, but as a team I don’t think we played awful. And I thought our defense was pretty good. We have to do some things to tighten up. We certainly can play a lot better. We need to be more competitive in certain situations. I’m not discouraged at all.”

On Landen Lucas:
“Landen was by far the best player in the game because he did a great job on (Zena Edosomwan). He’s their best player. He’s a monster. Landen played 24 minutes and 20 of the minutes he played against (Edosomwan), and I thought Landen did a great job on him.”

On Harvard:
“They made some great, great shots at the end of shot clocks.”

On the play of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham:
“Frank and Devonte’s perimeter defense was exceptional. Those two guys created all kinds of havoc in the first half.”

Junior G Frank Mason III
On hitting the three toward the end of the game to get Kansas’ lead back up to seven points:
“Yeah, that was a big shot, but I was just thankful for my teammates; they put me in great position to make that play.”

On Landen Lucas’s energy off the bench tonight:
“He was huge for us tonight. He gave us great energy on the defensive end, he got some great finishes around the basket and he defended #4 (Zena Edosomwan) very well today and that was a key to their team.”

On Wayne Selden Jr.’s foul trouble:
“It affected us a lot, we need him out there. He’s a third-year guy, he knows what Coach (Self) wants and he’s been through these types of situations. We really missed him out there.”

On Coach Self’s message in the locker room after the game:
“He was happy we got the win, but he wasn’t happy that we didn’t pay attention to details and little things like that and not communicating that well on the defensive end.”

Junior F Landen Lucas 
On Coach Self playing him a lot in the second half to get rebounds:
“It’s something I take pride in and he knows that. We were struggling a little bit so I went in there and tried to guard #4 (Zena Edosomwan) and get as many rebounds as I possibly could.”

On the team’s difficulty getting boards:
“They (Harvard) all crashed pretty hard, so there were a lot of guards coming into crash and their bigs went after it every time. It’s just something we need to work on.”

On getting back on the court after sitting out the last game against Loyola (MD):
“It was good, it was nice to get back out there. I was tired, my conditioning wasn’t great after missing a couple practices, but it was nice to get back out there and I was happy I could help contribute a little bit.”

On how his toe is feeling:
“It’s a little sore, but that’s expected for a little while. But it’s not giving me too much trouble.”

Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham:
On forcing Harvard to turn the ball over more in the first half than the second:
“Coach (Self) was telling us that when the defense is in front of the bench the first half and then when we switch in the second half, we can’t communicate to each other as well from the bench and know what they’re running. Also, Wayne’s foul trouble hurt us because it made Frank (Mason III) and me play more minutes, so we got tired and couldn’t pressure the ball as much.”

On Coach Self challenging the team to be tougher:
“Definitely; it is one of the keys to each game — toughness, defending and rebounding. We kind of got out rebounded a lot today, but in the first half they turned the ball over so they didn’t shoot as much as we did. But toughness is definitely something he pushes for.”

On growing as a team leader:
“It is something I am trying to work on. Coach (Self) is constantly staying on me for communicating, just saying anything, because it can help. When nobody is out there talking, (it’s my job) just to try and motivate guys if they miss a shot, ‘Just keep shooting, keep shooting, it’s going to go.'”

On the overall feel of today’s game:
“We played pretty well on the defensive end, we were aggressive. We did miss a lot of free throws and layups; just little things like that could have been a bigger outcome or bigger lead in the end. We will correct it.”

Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker
Opening statement:
“Certainly I am disappointed as our ball club was in the final result, but I was very pleased with the effort and how hard we competed against an outstanding team. With Bill (Self), we certainly know the challenge of coming into this historic facility. They’re big, they’re athletic; I think one of the keys was not having (Wayne) Selden, with him being in foul trouble. He’s one of the best players and a very hot player right now, so that certainly helped us. I was certainly pleased with the effort and how hard our kids competed for the opportunity and compete for victory this afternoon.”

On Harvard’s performance tonight:
“Looking at the final numbers, I wouldn’t have predicted that but two things we talked about: taking care of the ball is one key for us, being on the road, being here and being against their pressure; and then certainly seeing if we can keep them off the backboard. Those are the two areas where we really try to see if we can do a good job, especially on the road. We can run solid offense and have positive possessions and not turn it over on the open floor and let them get the crowd riled up and get this place rocking and rolling, which we’ve certainly seen, and see if we can keep them off the glass. And that’s exactly what our kids did. Zena [Edosomwan] talked about we were fighting on the backboard and boxing out is one of the bigger components on the identity of our team so I was pleased that we were able to hold our own there.”

On the game plan for today’s game:
“Our message to our kids for this game was concentration, composure, confidence and competitiveness. If we could attack those ‘C’ words, we thought we would feel good about us. There’s a lot that we can take from this game moving forward. Obviously, not the end result but I thought we gave great effort in those particular areas. The composure is going to be big for us and we talked about that being down at a time out and knowing we’ll have to rely on that. We certainly have to know that it will be tough to manage the game and this environment and to show composure and I thought they did the best that they could do.”

On the second half:
“We thought we could have done a little better. We certainly felt that we were able to manage the game for the first 20 minutes and got it to under double-digits in terms of the halftime deficit and then trying to see if we can get to that first media timeout feeling that we made some progress. I thought our kids were really locked in on trying to manage the game in that form and fashion. I thought they gave us some strength and some confidence to play in terms of four minute segments.”

On having a young team:
“I’m very encouraged. Weisner’s [Perez] play off the bench, he was terrific for us, him being undersized compared to their length, size and talent. I was very encouraged for the progress of our freshmen players. We’ve come a long way in that department, for those kids in particular, so they have a lot of things we think that we can use from here going forward. Composure should be one of those.”

On Weisner Perez:
“Weisner [Perez] is a tough kid. He’s from a tough part of Chicago and he’s a scrapper. He’s a kid that I’m not surprised at how he’s been able to give us the lift in certain areas with our team; energy and toughness off the bench. He’s a guy that can score the basketball. He’s got a feel and instinct around the rim and certainly a decent shot, as a lefty being a little hard to guard. I’m very pleased with the growth of our young kids and managing the game like we were trying to do this afternoon.”

Harvard F/C Zena Edosomwan 
On being able to outrebound Kansas:
“Every game, I think a big part of our identity is to box out and fight for the rebounds. Obviously Kansas is a very big, athletic team, so for us we had to be scrappy. I didn’t know we out-rebounded them, but we were just trying to attack the glass and battle because we knew it was going to be a tough environment against a great team.”

On Landen Lucas’ size affecting his offensive play:
“I think it was that and also being double-teamed and being cautious of that all game. It was all about kicking it out and making reads. I think he did a great job defensively. He’s a tough defender. I have a lot of respect for the guy, but it was also getting double-teamed and making reads and finding moments to get shots or kick-outs.”

On drastically decreasing their turnover rate from the first half to the second half:
“For us, we just have to come together and find ways to tighten up our game and not commit sloppy turnovers. In the second half, we just wanted to come in there and compete and make better decisions. I think once we got all of the nerves out, guys were more relaxed and we were playing harder.”

On Weisner coming off the bench and being an asset:
“He works really hard. All of our bench guys, all the guys didn’t let up. They did their job coming off the bench, bringing energy. Credit to Weisner and all the other guys.”

On being down by single-digits going into the half:
“I don’t think we were really paying attention to the score. We were just playing and trying to compete, controlling what we can control and playing hard defense, getting stops and rebounding. We were playing our game, playing composed. I think when that happened, guys were more relaxed and good to go. Better things started happening as the game went on, our confidence built.”

Harvard G Tommy McCarthy
On his three-point performance:
“I’ve always had a knack for playing in the moment and playing my strengths. I never back down from anyone. I’m confident in myself and my abilities. When it was time to step up, I try to do my best.”

On what he likes most about playing in Allen Fieldhouse:
“It was intense. Obviously the fans and the historic arena. It’s the kind of thing you dream about since you were a little kid. It was cool to play in here. I wish we could have gotten the win, but it’s still a great experience.”

On Weisner coming off the bench and helping the team out:
“Weisner is a great spark for us. He plays his rear-end off whenever he gets the opportunity. He’s been a huge spark for us off the bench. He really did a great job finishing down low against their bigs today.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.