No. 2/2 Kansas defeats Oklahoma State, 87-80
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seventeen second-half points from Devonte’ Graham, Frank Mason III’s third-straight 20-point outing and a double-double from Josh Jackson lifted No. 2 Kansas past the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 87-80, Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks overcame an 11-point first-half deficit, their largest of the season, to pick up their 16th-straight victory.
For its second-straight outing and fourth time this season, Kansas (16-1, 5-0 Big 12) was forced to overcome a halftime deficit after the visitors out of Oklahoma State (10-7, 0-5 Big 12) put the Jayhawks on their heels over the first 20 minutes of play.
The Cowboys sprinted out to an 11-point lead less than eight minutes into the game after connecting on seven of their first 10 shots. That was paired with a cold shooting stretch for the Jayhawks to start the contest. Kansas connected on just three of its first 10 shots and converted on only two of 11 3-point attempts in the first half.
With the Jayhawks on their heels early, KU’s veteran, Mason, wasn’t fazed by the early deficit and kept his team within striking distance. The Player of the Year candidate netted 11 of his team’s first 17 points. His early production had much to do with his ability to get to the free throw line early, which turned out to foreshadow the KU trend for the rest of the game.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting against the Cowboys.
Graham got into the scoring mix when he hit a jumper at the 11:58 mark. That bucket kicked off a 10-2 KU run that got the Jayhawks back within a point of the visitors at 23-22. Kansas kept pace with the Cowboys over the remainder of the first frame with a little help from the charity stripe. The Jayhawks converted on 12-of-16 chances from the free throw line over the opening 20 minutes, compared to just three for Oklahoma State.
OSU continued to connect from long range as the minutes wound down in the first half to hold a slight edge over the Jayhawks. A trio of three pointers in the final six minutes, as well as a tip-in at the buzzer, had the Cowboys up 40-36 at the intermission.
Both squads continued to fight for every possession in the second half, with neither team able to build a lead larger than six points until the final 30 seconds of the game.
After Mason carried the torch for the Jayhawks in the first half, it was Graham who gave his team a boost in the second. The Raleigh, North Carolina native tallied 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including a 3-of-4 clip from beyond the 3-point line. It was Graham who gave KU its first lead, rolling in an acrobatic lay-up on breakaway just under six minutes into the second half.
The Jayhawk defense also stepped up its efforts in the second half. KU collected six steals in the final frame, which led to 11 points off those OSU turnovers.
Kansas also continued to get to the free throw line, notching 29 attempts over the last 20 minutes and forcing the visitors into foul trouble. Kansas ended the game with a 30-11 advantage over the Cowboys from the charity stripe, a statistic that proved to be vital to the final score line.
Oklahoma State’s Mitchell Solomon scored 10-straight points over the final five minutes to keep the game tight, with his final bucket of the game pulling his team within three at 79-76 with just over two minutes to play.
Jackson answered Solomon’s run with an and-one on KU’s next possession to put the Jayhawks up by six points. Kansas’ lead stayed intact by way of the free throw line as well, with the home side converting on 9-of-14 free throws in the last five minutes.
A pair of Graham free throws, which marked a season-high 45 free throw attempts for KU, put the Jayhawks’ final points on the board with 21 seconds remaining as Kansas held on for the 87-80 win.
Mason (22 points), Graham (21 points) and Jackson (20 points) combined for 63 of their team’s points, with 21 of those coming from the free throw line. Jackson added 11 rebounds to post the fourth double-double of his career. Senior Landen Lucas led all players with 12 rebounds, marking the fifth time in the last six games he has collected 10 or more rebounds.
Kansas will play its first of four ESPN Big Monday games at Iowa State on Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. Central. The Jayhawks then return home to host Texas on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. Central, on CBS.
KU STARTERS (CONSECUTIVE / SEASON / CAREER STARTS)
Sr. G Frank Mason III (91 / 17 / 94)
Jr. G Devonte’ Graham (24 / 17 / 53)
Jr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (7 / 7 / 13)
Fr. G Josh Jackson (17 / 17 / 17)
Sr. C Landen Lucas (6 / 11 / 44)
• Kansas leads the all-time series with Oklahoma State, 112-57.
• The Jayhawks have won 10 of the last 14 meetings.
• KU is 47-9 against OSU inside Allen Fieldhouse.
• Bill Self is 16-11 against his alma mater.
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (252nd-straight sellout)
• 20-POINT SCORERS: Kansas featured three 20-point scorers on Saturday — Frank Mason III (22 points), Devonte’ Graham (21) and Josh Jackson (20). The last time KU featured three players in 20-plus points was a three-overtime victory over Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2016 — Perry Ellis (27), Devonte’ Graham (22) and Wayne Selden Jr. (21). The last time Kansas had three 20-point scorers in a regulation game was against Toledo on Dec. 30, 2013 — Perry Ellis (21), Naadir Tharpe (20), Andrew Wiggins (20).
• DOUBLE-FIGURE BOARDS: With Landen Lucas’ 12 rebounds and Josh Jackson’s 11 rebounds, it marks the first time multiple Jayhawks have reached double-figure rebounds in a game this season. The last time KU had multiple double-figure rebounders was against Texas Tech on Jan. 9, 2016 — Perry Ellis (10 rebounds) and Frank Mason III (10).
• FREE THROW ATTEMPTS: The Jayhawks finished 30-of-45 from the free throw line on Saturday. KU’s 45 free throw attempts are the most since attempting 47 in an overtime win over Kentucky on Jan. 30, 2016. It is the most attempts from the charity stripe in a conference game since attempting 46 against Oklahoma State in 2015.
• TAKING THE LEAD: A Devonte’ Graham’s fast-break layup at the 14:10 mark of the second half gave Kansas its first lead of the game, 50-49. There were a total of three lead changes and seven ties after Graham made a the go-ahead 3-pointer to give a 65-62 lead with 9:04 remaining. This is the first game of the season in which Kansas has not held a lead for the entire first half — Kansas trailed 40-36 at halftime.
• LARGEST DEFICIT: When Oklahoma State took 11-point leads of 19-8 and 21-10 in the first half, it marked the largest deficit of the season for KU.
• LEADING UNDER FIVE: The Jayhawks have maintained a lead at the five minute mark of every game this season.
• WIN, DESPITE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE: It is the second time this season that KU’s opponent has recorded a better shooting percentage than the Jayhawks. Oklahoma State shot 45.6 percent from the field to the Jayhawks’ 44.1 percent on Saturday. Kansas has won both games when its opponent has a better shooting percentage (TCU, Oklahoma State).
• OSU SHARP SHOOTER: Mitchell Solomon’s 6-for-6 shooting performance from the field were the most field goals without a miss by a KU opponent since Iowa State’s Stevie Johnson went 5-for-5 on Feb. 21, 1998.
Kansas maintains these active streaks, all of which lead the nation:
• 12 Big 12 Conference regular-season titles
• 27 NCAA Tournament appearances
• 27 seasons with 20+ wins
• 52 wins at home, including 49 in Allen Fieldhouse
• 150 weeks ranked in AP Top 25
Senior G Frank Mason III
• Scored 22 points with five rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes.
• Shot 9-of-12 at the free throw line, including making his first seven free throws.
• Has reached 20 points in 4-of-5 Big 12 games this season.
• Has five or more rebounds in nine games this season.
• Passed Brandon Rush for 23rd-place on KU’s all-time scoring list with 1,481 career points after Saturday afternoon.
Senior C Landen Lucas
• Finished with 12 rebounds and seven points in 30 minutes.
• Has reached double-figure rebounds in five of the last six games.
Junior G Devonte’ Graham
• Scored a season-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four assists and two steals.
• 17 of his 21 total points were scored in the second half.
• Reached his second 20-point effort in the last three games.
• Made a layup at the 14:10 mark of the second half to give Kansas its first lead of the game, 50-49. On the ensuring OSU possession, Graham blocked a shot.
Freshman G Josh Jackson
• Notched his fourth double-double and fourth 20-point game of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds, adding a season-high four steals in 34 minutes.
• Shot 10-of-17 at the free throw line. His 17 free throw attempts are the most since Kelly Oubre Jr., had 19 against TCU on March 12, 2015.
Kansas head coach Bill Self
“That is a good team (Oklahoma State) and they played hard. Obviously, we got off to a pretty rocky start and they were so much better than us early. Of course, they were making everything and their pressure bothered us the whole game. We finally just drove their pressure; that was our only offense and shot a lot of free throws because of that. Of course we didn’t make them, but got the opportunity to shoot them. But we are not going to apologize for this. It was a good win against a good team. I knew it would be a hard game and certainly all we did today by winning was set up a big game in Ames on Monday. So, (we are) certainly happy to win, but our focus needs to shift to the Cyclones.”
Kansas’ big three vs. Oklahoma State’s big three:
“(Mitchell Solomon) really (hurt us tonight.) They run that action off the pinch-post where (Juwan) Evans comes off and has got a head of steam going downhill, and certainly that is Landen’s job to flat hedge it, which he did perfectly. But Evans is so clever with the ball and he fed (Solomon) two or three times in a row in which our weak side was late getting there, and it is hard action to guard because it happens so fast, but we did some good things. It did not appear that we rebounded the ball because they hurt us on that. I think Solomon got a couple put-backs in a row. We actually rebounded the ball pretty well, especially in the second half. Josh (Jackson) got to the free throw line and did not convert, but he got there, which is a good thing and Landen had a solid game. Frank (Mason III) did not shoot it well today, but I thought he was really good holding (Oklahoma State’s Juwan) Evans to 6-for-22 (shooting). That is pretty darn good. Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) made some good plays and of course I thought Devonte’, of all the guys on our team, I thought maybe was the most clutch guy we had today.”
On the team staying competitive:
“You know we did not really pressure, but there in the second half we were in the right spots a lot. And a lot of times about defense you are just in the right spots and the other team may help you and that was the case. I think Frank (Mason III) had a couple of run-outs, but there were some really big plays that we made. I know when Svi subbed right back in, he took a guy’s ball right there immediately and that was a huge play, but we still made some dumb plays. I thought Josh got fouled on that late drive when he kind of threw up a bad shot. But if you don’t get the call, it is an awful shot. If you get the call, it is a good play. All in all it was a solid, grind it out, typical Big 12 game and we have played five of them, and that means we only have 13 left.”
About Iowa State (next opponent):
“Yeah I could be wrong here but isn’t (Monte Morris) 22-1 in assist-to-turnover ratio in the league. He is shooting the heck out of the ball. But they have more than him, they have Naz Long and Matt Thomas, really good players. They are playing more guys, working in some bigs, and of course (Deonte) Burton is a matchup nightmare – kind of like Josh is for us – because he is a guard and they will play him at the four as well. They have a good team, and Texas Tech could have won there, and Oklahoma State could have beaten them in Stillwater, but they also could have won at Baylor. That was a tie game with 10 or 20 seconds left. They could be, kind of like us, 3-2 or 2-3 in worse shape, but they could easily be 5-0 as well. We know we are going to be playing one of the best teams around.”
Kansas junior guard Devonte’ Graham
On the team’s shot selection, especially from beyond the 3-point arc:
“Some of them weren’t very good. Coach (Self) told us at halftime that we need to watch our shot selection. We are an aggressive team. We like to shoot the ball and we like to run, kind of like a run-and-gun offense. So a lot of the shots we take I like, especially with Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk shooting). I tell him to shoot the ball every time because I believe it is going to go in every time.”
On the team’s improvements in rebounding:
“It is an emphasis every game. We were getting outrebounded at the half and, once again, Coach called us out and we responded to the challenge.”
Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III
On playing in a close game:
“Every game is fun but they wanted to play fast and we like to play fast too. It was a great game to play in today. Nothing is better than an afternoon game here in the Fieldhouse. The fans are great and it gives us some time to hang out with our family the rest of the day.”
On the talented point guards in the Big 12:
“(The) Big 12 has some good point guards. (Jawun) Evans is a good point guard and I was just telling him after the game to keep doing what he is doing. He’s going to be great. He’s a good, young guard.”
On the team’s slow start in recent home games:
“When other teams come in to play us, we are going to get their best shot. They are really excited to play here. I think we could come a little bit more ready. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it is something that we need to figure out.”
Kansas freshman guard Josh Jackson
On keeping his cool after being called for a charge:
“I don’t really think that I kept my cool. I think I could have handled it better than I did actually. Sometimes I just don’t agree with the call and it gets to me a little bit. I’m just glad I didn’t get a technical this time.”
On becoming more aggressive and driving to the basket:
“I’m still just trying to finish through the contact, no matter how hard they foul me. A little bit of it is because my free throws have been kind of poor. So some teams like to send me to the line a lot. But that’s something that I am still working on.”
Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood
“From an Oklahoma State standpoint, we got a little better today even though the outcome wasn’t in the left column. Free throws and rebounds are my biggest pet peeves in basketball. We had four of us there and they had two. And I think they had nine or maybe 10 points on those opportunities. When you’re playing now the No. 1 team in the country, in their building, you can’t do that. In essence, I feel pretty good about what we did offensively. I thought we tried to go a little deeper in the shot clock early. We wanted to try to help our defense by playing good offense. To use the football terminology, ‘time of possession.’ We tried to see if they would make a mistake. I thought we were halfway successful with that and I felt good about our tempo the first half. Kansas is so good and they have always been good at taking advantage of their opponent in transition. What we did is we fouled and that really put us in harm’s way. Getting (Mitchell) Solomon in foul trouble hurt us in the first half. (Leyton) Hammonds was not even a blip on the screen today because of foul trouble. I was really proud of Davon Dillard, a man I haven’t been playing a great deal. He came in and led us in rebounding and he gave us some toughness. I told (Kansas’) Frank (Mason III) after the game that if it ended today, he would be the National Player of the Year. He refuses to let them lose. Devonte’ (Graham) hit a couple of big threes, which hurt. And then you talk about Josh (Jackson) and he does what he does. He’s 6-foot-8 and gets to the foul line, he’s aggressive and he’s got a dog in him that I love. He made a great defensive play in front of our bench. They’re a very good basketball team and I thought it was a good ending today.”
On Kansas guards Mason, Graham and Jackson:
“This league this year has elite point guards. All the way up and down the conference, elite point guards. More importantly, most of them are veteran point guards. And I’ve used the saying, ‘it’s like having Tom Brady at quarterback.’ There is nothing you can throw at them that they have not seen. I’ve watched Frank for four years. With that bulldog mentality, he is getting that thing to the rim, he’s going to make that stop, he’s going to sit down and guard, he’s going to do whatever it takes for that team to win. There are not many people that have that. And Josh’s stuff is legendary. He stood out at the AAU circuit and it’s probably a shame because of our culture today, but he stood out because he played hard. He’s talented, but he plays hard. He’s loaded up. We just wrote ‘dog’ next to his name because that’s what he is. I appreciate that. And Devonte’, I don’t know where he’s at with leadership, but he falls right along. There’s a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality that they have. We don’t have that yet. YET. YET. Put that in all caps. We’re going to get it at some point.”
On the Jayhawks giving up more points this season than in previous seasons:
“They don’t have great depth. I don’t know their inner workings, but their depth is a factor in terms of being able to protect the rim. I think there are positives to having size and being able to protect the rim, but this is not one of Kansas’ bigger teams. That doesn’t mean they’re not great, because they are very good, but if that is any one reason I would say it is because a little lack of depth.”
On the Cowboys’ shot selection:
“We are who we are. We have been a team which has been limited to being able to throw the ball in to the post. Jawun (Evans) is a guy who we lean on a lot. I think he took 20 shots; he’s got a make more than he misses, but for the most part we are OK with our shot selection.”
On Evans’ struggles this season:
“The other teams. He’s got a reputation and I think there is a reason we have seen an improvement in Jeffrey Carroll and see Phil (Forte III) have some good nights. It is because of him. The other part of that is two out of the last three games he’s played four and five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. It is hard when you’re not into a flow and a rhythm. But Jawun is good and I don’t put too much into that. We are going to lean on him very heavily.”
On the Cowboys’ players after the game:
“I am pleased because I liked our locker room at the end of the game. You have guys that sacrifice and commit and it hurts. I haven’t seen that every game. You have to pay a price to win. Kansas is the best; what Bill (Self) has done here is remarkable. Winning is hard and we’re trying to get there. Losing is not an option and it is never going to be acceptable. In Texas, I think we had guys more happy to get their boxed lunch and get on the bus. Not anymore. So there is improvement there. I think we’ve found a player, Mitchell Solomon. I have so much respect for Phil Forte, because Phil has taken the bull by the horns for our team and has given us a chance.”
On the Cowboys’ offense and defense against Kansas today:
“We thought we could take them away from the rim. We felt like with our offense there is a lot of cutters, a lot of weak side opportunities. You put Landen (Lucas) on ball screens, force him to guard, and that opens the paint. The one thing we can do is shoot the basketball. Jeffrey Carroll has been – obviously, I’m selfish and biased — but one of the most improved players in the country. How quiet were his 23 points tonight? Mitchell’s second half was the guy we need him to be every night.”
On expecting to win games:
“Not in one second in my 30 years (of coaching) have I thought that any game was not winnable. I don’t care who we play. I think we have a chance every single night to fight and to win. I expected to win tonight. If for one second I stop doing that, Oklahoma State should quit paying me.”
On the state of Kansas:
“This is such a special state. You have three universities that produce top-level basketball. You have top community colleges and Division II basketball. This place is special. Kansas is always going to be home and I’m always going to be proud to be a part of this state and everything that transpires here. This is a special place. I’m an old-school guy, that’s why I’ve taken over at Oklahoma State. I’ve said this many times, but we have the same thing (at OSU). We have the tradition, we have the culture, maybe a little less, but it’s there and we’re going to get this thing going as well.”
Oklahoma State sophomore point guard Jawun Evans
On his shot selection:
“Some of them I did, and some I didn’t like, but I was trying to attack and draw fouls. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the fouls I was looking for.”
On the matchup against Kansas’ Frank Mason III:
“There’s really no (individual) matchup, just team against team. We were trying to play hard against each other and that’s a great plan. I give them props, we just try to go hard and fight for our team.”
On Devonte’ Graham’s difference of play between halves:
“The second half he was more aggressive, going to the hole and trying to get there fast. He made some big plays for the team.”
On if today’s game against the country’s No. 2 team is a step forward:
“I wouldn’t say it’s a step forward, but we played as hard as we could. We just had to buckle down and come out and play the same way we did every game. (We) just need to play hard on the defensive end also.”
On KU’s transition game:
“They’re a very tough team, they’re an up-and-down team, they like to get up and down the floor. I think that’s where they got us, in transition, with some of the turnovers that we made and we paid for it.”
Oklahoma State junior forward Mitchell Solomon
On OSU’s general game plan:
“We were just trying to play hard, play our game. We knew it’s a tough environment, so we were trying to play together and lean on each other to win.”
On difference between first and second halves:
“I knew they were going to come out with a lot of intensity. They’re a great team that doesn’t play two bad halves, so I was trying to do whatever I could to win, to help my team, and that was being aggressive.”
On the score differential at halftime:
“I felt like we were playing hard. We were just trying to play our game and try not to think about the score. We knew if we played hard we would be in a good position.”
On the team’s points in the paint:
“If Jawun (Evans) is aggressive there’s not really anyone, that I believe, that can stop him. So, if he’s going downhill, he’s going to attract attention so that leaves room for offensive rebounds if he doesn’t finish, which he does often. That helps a lot with our rotations and I think we did pretty well today.”
On the team’s placement in the Big 12 Conference:
“It’s tough for sure, but we’re just trying to stay together, keep playing hard every game and I think it will come.”
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