Frankly Final: Mason's late heroics sink No. 1 Duke, 77-75

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NEW YORK – Frank Mason III scored the final five points for Kansas, including a long jumper with 1.8 seconds left to sink top-ranked Duke, 77-75, in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden late Tuesday night.
For the second consecutive game, the senior guard carried his team late and led his side in scoring, this time pouring in 21 points in front of a sold out Garden crowd which included many members of his family. Mason scored the final 11 points to force overtime in a loss to Indiana in Honolulu on Friday, an effort that earned him Big 12 Player of the Week honors Monday.  
Mason’s dagger was the final punch needed to break a tightly contested game that saw 10 ties and a flurry of fouls that made any flow of offense a rarity while keeping several of the key players limited.
Kansas freshman Josh Jackson was one of the stars lost to the whistles right when he was heating up. Jackson scored seven straight points for Kansas to seemingly help wear through the elasticity of a back-and-forth contest near the midpoint of the second half. He finished with 15 points and joined Mason in double figures along with Devonte’ Graham, who added 13.
Duke’s Luke Kennard finished with a game-high 22 points, many coming while rallying the Blue Devils from a deficit of as many as 12 with a little more than eight minutes left in the game, and was joined in double figures by Grayson Allen (12), Amile Jefferson (12), Frank Jackson (11) and Matt Jones (11). Jefferson also fouled out with significant time remaining in the game after playing limited second-half minutes.
KU’s Jackson scored the first bucket of the contest in just 12 seconds, but it’d be the only lead for Kansas until nearly four minutes into the second half when Mason’s lay-up broke a 37-all tie. Prior to Mason’s bucket, the game was tied eight different times with Kansas chasing the Blue Devils throughout.
It was tied again seconds later, but that’s when Jackson, who was limited to just three field goals and nine points in KU’s season opening loss, looked to be settling in. Jackson sank a jumper in the paint to give Kansas a 41-39 advantage, then after empty trips down the court by both squads, the first-year wing sliced through the lane to push the lead to four with nearly 13:30 to play. He added a three before Duke could score to make it a personal and KU 7-0 run.

 Josh Jackson scored seven straight in the second half for KU.The run would spark a 19-6 surge by the Jayhawks who pushed the lead the 12 with 8:03 to play. The way the game’s previous 32 minutes had played out a more-than-two possession lead had the feeling of comfort, but Kennard, Allen and the nation’s No. 1 team were not finished.
Allen, who was limited to just one field goal in the first half, connected on three buckets in the final six minutes and Duke’s Frank Jackson hit two three-pointers wrapped around scores by Kennard in the waning minutes, including a game-tying shot with 8.2 left on the clock to make it 75-75.
With the poise and confidence of a player who has executed dozens of clutch plays over the previous three season – not to mention a career-best 30 points in the season opener – Mason dribbled the ball up the court, drove to the elbow and the Wooden Award watch list member drained the eventual game winner. Duke managed a half court heave but it was short and to the left.
Kansas claimed its third win in the last four meetings with Duke, including back-to-back wins in Champions Classic match-ups. The win also marked the eighth for Kansas over a top-ranked foe, including three under head coach Bill Self.
After logging well over 10,000 miles on its two-game, season-opening road trip, Kansas will return to Lawrence and welcomes Siena to Allen Fieldhouse for a 7 p.m. tipoff Friday, the beginning of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. That game will be televised on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3, and will also be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network. 


Game 2: Kansas vs. Duke (State Farm Champions Classic)
Site: New York, New York
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Attendance (Capacity): 19,812 (19,812)
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 15
Tipoff: 8:48 p.m. CST / 9:48 p.m. EST
Final Buzzer: 11:02 p.m. CST / 12:02 p.m. EST

Kansas has won three of the last four games against Duke, including two-straight, to improve its standing in the series which Duke now leads, 7-4. The last two meetings have come in the Champions Classic. Tuesday’s contest was the first in the series decided by two points or less.

Kansas defeated the top-ranked team in the Associated Press (AP) poll for the eighth time in program history, improving to 8-16 all-time against AP No. 1 teams. The Jayhawks are now 3-2 against AP No. 1 teams and 72-39 against AP ranked teams under Bill Self. Last season, the Jayhawks defeated USA Today Coaches Poll No. 1 Oklahoma, 109-106, in triple overtime on Jan. 4, 2016, in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas out-scored Duke in fast break points, 12-0 — all 12 fast break points were scored in the second half. The Jayhawks out-scored Duke in the paint, 48-30, including a 32-14 points in the paint edge in the second half. Kansas shot 60 percent in the second half on 20-of-33 shooting

Updated W/L Records
Kansas all-time: 2,187-837
Bill Self at Kansas: 386-84
Bill Self overall: 593-189
Bill Self vs. Duke: 2-3


Frank Mason III (Sr., G)
• Made the game-winning shot with 1.8 second remaining in regulation.
• Led Kansas is scoring the second-straight game with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in 35 minutes of action.

Devonte’ Graham (Jr., G)
• Played the entire 40 minutes of regulation, finishing with 13 points (6-12 FG, 1-6 3FG) with three rebounds and two assists.

Josh Jackson (Fr., G)
• Scored a season-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 18 minutes.
• In the second half, scored 11 points (5-5 FG, 1-1 3FG) in just eight minutes.
• Fouled out with 5:08 remaining in regulation.

Udoka Azubuike (Fr., C)
• Grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds in 15 minutes of action, becoming the first Jayhawk to record double-figure rebounds in a game this season.


Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On senior guard Frank Mason III and the final play:
“Yeah that was quite a play we called, ‘just get out of his way.’ Yeah it’s good.  He’s made a lot of big plays for us. I don’t know if he’s made game-winners, but he’s certainly made a lot of plays, he put it into overtime against Indiana too, I think with two seconds left. He’s a stud.  He didn’t get any rhythm the first half, but second half he played a little bit smarter offensively and drove it downhill much better.”

On the play of freshman Josh Jackson:
“I thought Josh [Jackson] was great.  He was by far the best player in the game there to start the second half.  But the thing about him is, without being negative at all, he can’t let his emotions get the best of him and he’s a pretty emotional guy and he’s got to be able to contain that a little bit better.  If he hadn’t gotten the technical he wouldn’t have been in foul trouble for something silly: knocking the ball out of the guy’s hand for no reason.  But he’s a heck of a talent as you guys saw and he got a little bit of rhythm and certainly put us on his back for a period of time.”

On the play of freshman Udoka Azubuike:
“I was really encouraged.  He’s as raw as there is and he’s actually got good touch shooting the ball, little jump hooks around the basket.  He really didn’t get a chance to show that tonight, but we’re not a great rebounding team by any stretch and he gets 12 in 15 minutes where our other bigs get seven in 30.  So I see, as he gets more and more comfortable, I certainly see his minutes going way up. He’s going to be as important as anyone on our team on how good we can be.”

On senior guard Frank Mason III:
“I think the NBA is missing the boat on him.  I think he doesn’t fit the eye test with length and standing height and that kind of stuff, but he’s got some things you can’t teach and intangibles that are as good as anybody in America probably possess.”

Senior guard Frank Mason III

On his game-winning shot:
“The play was to [isolate] me, and my teammates did a good job spacing the floor and I just took advantage of separation I created and just shot the ball.  It felt good after it left my hand and the only thing I was a little worried about was my balance.  I was a little bit off-balance.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling.  I just have to thank God and thank my teammates for putting me in a position to make the shot.”

Sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham

On what caused the team’s renewed energy after the intermission:
“The halftime speech.  Coach was a little upset with us.   [We were] taking contested threes and we  weren’t making them, I think we were one for 12 at halftime, so he just got on us about using our speed and quickness just to get in the lane.  He tells us nobody can guard us and stay in front of us, they have to put their hands on us or foul us or either we’re going to get in the lane and score or get fouled or drop off to a big man, so he got after us about driving the ball.”

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

On tonight’s game:
“It was a heck of a game. They’re really good. Their backcourt – it’s a big-time backcourt. Those two kids [Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham] – just so solid and obviously Bill does a great job of coaching all those kids. They played defense hard. But, those two guards are terrific guards. I thought, they really knocked us back at the start of the second half for about ten minutes. It’s our first game, really, against that level and they knocked us back. And, to our guys’ credit, the last 8-10 minutes of the game, I thought we played really well. Really well against a really good team. An exciting ending because both teams are winners and the crowd [was] unbelievable at the Garden. One big shot, another big shot, big shot, and then a huge shot to win so, what do you expect from the Garden in something like this in November, in the middle of November. Mason made a big time play – was well guarded and just makes a big time play. Congratulations to them. I think we learned a lot from the game. Both teams were in foul trouble. For us, we just don’t have the number when we get into that foul trouble, but that’s the way it is. Anyway, a really good learning experience.

On playing against Kansas:
“They’re going to be one of the best teams in the country throughout the whole year – unless, God forbid, they have injury. So, to play that way when a couple of our veterans didn’t have good games tonight – and that’s because we played against a good team. Overall, it was really good for us.”

On the second half:
“I called a timeout after two minutes because we made three really bad defensive mistakes that were easy. And, so if you’re doing that on the defensive end, your offense isn’t going to run well. They played good defense, they’ve always been one of the best defensive teams. But, we can play good defense and we weren’t; we were stagnant on that end. We just weren’t very good for about ten minutes. We called a couple timeouts. Our faces weren’t good and then, all of a sudden, boom – we were good and then we were really good. Not enough.”

On positive takeaways:
“The fact that we fought hard, that we played against a really good team, and then shake hands with them because they hit a big, big shot and played really hard. I like what [Guard] Luke Kennard did. I like the experience that Frank got. I actually thought [Forward] Chase [Jeter] – this is a big game for Chase. A couple times he didn’t finish, but I thought he played really hard and well. Again, he’s a young player. You learn a lot from playing at this level of game and that’s why this Champions Classic is so important for these four programs to be able to play in games like this.”

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