No. 3 Kansas endures No. 2 Baylor for Big 12 lead, 73-68
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 3 Kansas basketball withstood a test from No. 2 Baylor on Wednesday night, 73-68, to move into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference standings.
The Jayhawks (20-2, 8-1 Big 12) improve to 8-0 against top-5 teams inside Allen Fieldhouse and reach 20 wins for the 28th-straight season – a streak that leads the NCAA. The win over Baylor (20-2, 7-2) becomes KU’s second-straight victory over an AP top-five team after defeating No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday.
Just like the win in Lexington, freshman phenom Josh Jackson contributed a double-double and scored over 20 points. The five-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week poured in a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Landen Lucas affects a Baylor shot late in the game.
National player of the year front-runner Frank Mason III scored 19 points with six assists to become the 10th Jayhawk to reach 500 career assists – finishing the night with 503. Mason also shot a perfect 12-for-12 at the free throw line, marking the most free throws made without a miss since Darnell Valentine also went 12-of-12 at Oklahoma on Jan. 23, 1980.
Kansas extends its winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 51 games and remain perfect in home games against Baylor at 14-0.
Baylor’s Johnathan Motley scored 16 points and 10 rebounds for his eight double-double of the season to lead the Bears. Kansas City native Ishmail Wainright, grandson of Maurice King – the first African-American starter in Kansas basketball history – finished with eight points and four steals.
Wednesday’s top-five tilt featured the most ties (11) and lead changes (10) for a game involving Kansas during Big 12 play this season.
Despite 13 first-half points by Jackson, Baylor went into the locker room with a 34-28 lead. Baylor’s Big 12-leading scoring defense held the Jayhawks under 30 points in the first half for just the third time this season. BU’s Motley had 14 points at the half and 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., made his sixth 3-pointer of the season to give the Bears an early advantage.
Mason reached 500 career assists when he dished to junior guard Devonte’ Graham for a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining in the opening half.
Mason waited until the final seconds of the first half to make his first field goal. Dribbling out the clock as his teammates setup an isolation play between Mason and BU’s Manu Lecomte. Mason flew past Lecomte and made a floater over 7-footer Lual-Acuil to bring Kansas within six at halftime, 34-28.
Wainright scored for the first time of the game to start the second half, extending BU’s largest lead of the night to 36-28.
But Kansas quickly escalated its momentum to the tune of a 13-0 run.
Mykhailiuk made back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half to spark the run and restore KU’s lead, 38-36. Mason capped off the 13-0 run with a picturesque fast-break floater which gave KU a 42-36 lead and prompted a BU timeout.
With under five minutes remaining in the game, both teams combined for three-straight 3-pointers as Baylor’s Lecomte tied the game, 61-61. Mason responded with his lone 3-pointer of the night to give KU the lead, 64-61, followed by a trey by BU’s Ishmail Wainright to tie it at 64 – the 11th and final tie of the game.
Coming out of a media timeout, Jackson used a dribble-drive move from the baseline and finished with an authoritative dunk to give Kansas the go-ahead lead, 66-64.
Nursing a three-point lead, 71-68, the Jayhawks made one final defensive stop to help secure the victory.
Mason put the game on ice by remaining perfect at the free throw line and making four free throws in the last five minutes, including the last two points of the game to give Kansas the 73-68 victory.
Kansas will host Iowa State on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m., on ESPN. KU will then play its second of four ESPN Big Monday contests at Kansas State, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m.
KU STARTERS (CONSECUTIVE / SEASON / CAREER STARTS):
Sr. G Frank Mason III (96 / 22 / 99)
Jr. G Devonte’ Graham (29 / 22 / 58)
Jr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (12 / 12 / 18)
Fr. G Josh Jackson (22 / 22 / 22)
Sr. C Landen Lucas (11 / 16 / 49)
• The Jayhawks now leads the all-time series with Baylor 28-4, including a 14-0 mark inside Allen Fieldhouse.
• Kansas has now won nine straight in the series and holds a 14-2 advantage in the last 16 meetings
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (249th-consecutive sellout)
• Made Kansas 20-2 overall, giving KU 20 wins for the 28th-consecutive season.
• Marked the first time Kansas has won back-to-back games versus AP top-5 opponents since the Jayhawks defeated No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Memphis in the 2008 Final Four.
• Gave Bill Self his ninth-straight home victory over an AP top-five ranked team, the longest active streak in the nation.
• Extended the nation’s longest active home court winning streak to 54 games, which includes 51 in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Made KU 11-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 755-109 all-time in the venue, including 217-9 under Bill Self.
• Improved Self to 405-85 at KU, 612-190 overall and 20-4 against Baylor.
• Made KU 2,206-838 all-time.
• Kansas is now 3-2 against ranked foes in 2016-17 with all three victories against top-5 teams.
• Kansas trailed at halftime for the seventh time this season and for the fifth time in its last seven games. The Jayhawks are now 6-1 in those instances.
• Both the Jayhawks and Bears each tallied 15 turnovers, however Kansas outscored the visitors 23-8 in points-off-turnovers (+15).
• The Jayhawks’ 22 field goals and 53 field goal attempts were both season lows.
• Kansas connected on 20-of-27 shots from the free throw line, which tied the team’s season high for free throws in a game that ended in regulation.
• KU was whistled for only 10 fouls, marking the fewest by a KU team in conference play since the Jayhawks committed seven fouls on Feb. 12, 2011 against Iowa State.
• The Jayhawks were 20-of-27 (74.1 percent) from the charity stripe and are now shooting 70.0 percent in conference play after posting a 58.9 percent clip during the non-conference season.
• The Bears shot a season-low six free throws, the fewest by a Kansas opponent
• After scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the first half, junior F Johnathan Motley was held to just two points and one field goal attempt over the final 20 minutes.
• Junior F Terry Maston scored a season-high 14 points, after averaging 7.3 ppg in his first 20 outings of 2016-17. Maston’s 12 field goal attempts were a career high.
• Senior guard Ishmail Wainwright’s four steals were the most by a Kansas opponent this season.
• The Bears’ four free throws made were the fewest since UCLA converted four free throws on Nov. 24, 2015. It’s the fewest in a conference game since Texas knocked down two charities on Jan. 19, 2013.
Senior G Frank Mason III
• With his 19 points, Mason III moved passed Kenny Gregory (1,555 pts.) and Jeff Boschee (1,560 pts.) to 16th on KU’s all-time scoring list with 1,569 career points.
• Mason was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line, marking the most free throws made without a miss since Darnell Valentine also went 12-of-12 at Oklahoma on Jan. 23, 1980.
• Mason’s 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining in regulation marked the 20th-consecutive game he as tallied at least one 3-point field goal.
• Mason reached the 500 assist milestone with his six helpers. He became the 10th Jayhawk w/ 500+ assists and now sits ninth on the Jayhawks’ all-time assists chart 503.
Junior G Devonte’ Graham
• Graham converted on 3-of-6 three pointers. He is now shooting 50 percent (34-of-68) from beyond the three-point arc in games inside Allen Fieldhouse this season.
Freshman G Josh Jackson
• Jackson scored a game-high and season-high 23 points and added 10 rebounds, giving him his sixth career double-double and his third in Big 12 play.
• Jackson continues to heat up from behind the arc, after converting on 2-of-4 from beyond the arc against Baylor, he is now shooting 56.5 percent (10-of-18) in his last four games.
• Jackson also tied his season high with six offensive rebounds.
Junior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
• Mykhailiuk was 3-of-5 from 3-point range, marking the 16th time the junior has converted on multiple three-point attempts.
Senior C Landen Lucas
• Lucas pulled down 11 rebounds marking the seventh time in the Jayhawks’ nine conference games he has tallied double-digit rebounds.
• Lucas’ two steals tied a season-high and the third time he has collected multiple thefts in a game in 2016-17.
On coming out on top in the back-and-forth affair with Baylor:
“That was a fabulous basketball game. That was two really good teams playing. I couldn’t be any more proud of our guys. On the flipside, I don’t know if the Baylor staff could be more proud of their guys. They made some hard shots. They banked in three shots in the second half. Two of them were threes and one of them was a 19-footer. We just kept hanging in there. We would get up by four and then they would bank in a three. I always see a lot of keys to the game – individuals played great. The bottom line is, did we guard the last two and a half minutes? When we went back man-to-man I thought our guys hunkered down and guarded probably about as good of a stretch as we’ve had all year – and of course we had to in order to win the game.”
On the halftime adjustments Kansas made to effectively attack Baylor’s length:
“I don’t think it was anything that was said, I thought our guys were just more aggressive. Of course team fouls, I could be wrong, I think they were 6-to-5 at one time so it wasn’t like there was a big foul disparity. I thought once we got into the bonus we did an unbelievable job of driving the ball downhill and forcing fouls. We shot probably four or six free throws when they fouled on purpose in the backcourt. Ishmail (Wainright) made two great fouls that saved them four points in the backcourt. That was a well-played game, even though we had 15 turnovers and they did too, I thought both teams played well. We went zone and it bought some time, meaning as much as anything we didn’t have to sub. They threw in some hard shots, but hopefully that will give us some confidence with our identity as far as being tough and being able to guard man-to-man.”
On Josh Jackson’s 20-point, 10-rebound effort at Kentucky last Saturday and turning around for another double-double with 23 points and 10 boards against Baylor:
“He’s a great, great player. I think he’s been great all year long, but I really think he’s even more comfortable now than what he has been. He’s shooting the ball better. He made 2-of-4 shots from three tonight. That makes him 10 for his last 18 from three. He has started to feel it. The one knock on him right now is he makes the game harder than what it should be because he’s not a good free throw shooter yet – he will be. I was so proud. The zone, I thought going into the game, the zone was going to bother Frank (Mason III). It always does. He’s not that tall, and with all of that length, for him to shoot 12 free throws and get 19 points, six assists and three steals when the game wasn’t meant for him as much as it has been some other games, I thought was pretty remarkable.”
On Landen Lucas’ second-half surge:
“He didn’t dunk it on anybody when he had the 7-footers on him tonight, but he did a good job twice of backing guys down and showing a nice touch. I thought he was really good. I didn’t think he was as good early and he would be the first to tell you that. He flipped the switch at halftime and I thought he was great. Mitch (Lightfoot) and Dwight (Coleby), Mitch gave us great minutes and Dwight probably didn’t look like he played as well, but still yet he had six rebounds and three were on the offensive end. Lagerald (Vick) didn’t get a chance to do very much tonight, but he was solid, especially defensively. It was a good team win. We don’t have as much margin for error as what we’ve had in some past years. The bottom line is we have to have basically everybody play well and tonight was a night that occurred.”
On taking sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference with Iowa State looming on Saturday:
“We have to defend the arc and be able to guard the ball because they’re going to play four guards. There are a lot of things we have to do, but I don’t even want to think about that right now. I just want to enjoy this one. I want our players to enjoy this. We’ll do a walkthrough tomorrow and hopefully get our batteries recharged. When you’re playing guys (Mason 38 minutes), (Graham 35 minutes), Mykhailiuk (34 minutes), Jackson (38 minutes), Lucas (30 minutes) and then you play on Wednesday and turn around and have a really hard game Saturday, then turn around and play a really hard game Monday (at Kansas State), I think getting them off of their feet is more important than actually going hard in practice.”
Kansas freshman guard Josh Jackson
On having such a big game in a game of this importance:
“It felt good to go out there and play well. I wish I could have made a few more free throws. Honestly, the way we played defense tonight and the way my teammates found me, it’s all on them.”
On the baseline drive to put KU ahead for good:
“I think I made a three a couple possessions before so I figured if I up-faked the guy would jump and Landen (Lucas) had helped really tremendously on sealing the big on the baseline so he couldn’t come and contest my shot, so it was an easy bucket.”
On what makes Kansas so clutch in close game situations:
“Our will to win. This group of guys, this team, I think the thing that comes first for everybody is just winning. When we get in tight, we come together and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to help each other win the game.”
On his performance versus top teams and avoiding nerves:
“Well, I can’t really feel any nerves because I feel like it affects how I play. The thing I’ve been trying to do is just go out there and play. I feel like that’s part of the reason my shot has gotten a little bit better. I’m not thinking about it so much, I’m just going out and playing basketball.”
On the level of competition in the Big 12 Conference:
“I don’t feel like you’d get better if you didn’t play against a bunch of guys who didn’t want to win. It’s even harder being Kansas because everyone wants to beat you so badly. It’s always a great game no matter what, no matter who we play in the Big 12.”
Kansas junior guard Devonte’ Graham
On the last possession being the best defense they’ve played this year:
“We were really locked in. It was the last possession of the game and we needed a stop and we did a good job flying around and got a stop.”
On the rapport between him and Frank Mason III:
“Definitely (there is). I think being together these three years has helped us to know when we want the ball and when to find each other. (After) Every day in practice playing together, I think we’ve got a really good rapport.”
On this game in the Big 12 race:
“It was big. It was for first place. We knew we had to come out and get that ‘W’ so we could remain in first. Now we just have to take this game, this momentum and keep it rolling.”
On the coaches’ message at halftime:
“For the whole team we were just getting pounded on the defensive glass. They had about 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, so that was our main focus — getting tough, start boxing out and getting rebounds. Especially for me and Frank, the guards, to get in there and clean up. (For) Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Lagerald (Vick) so that was a big key at halftime.”
Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III
On turning a corner as a team defensively:
“Yeah, I think so. I still think there are a lot of things that we can do better. Getting in the right position and doing a great job on the scouting report. Other than that, I think we do a really good job.”
On Baylor being as good as advertised:
“They are a great team. Their coach is a great coach and I think he does a good job using their athletic abilities and they showed that throughout the game. I think when we go down to Waco, it will be a great game.”
On the keys to winning tonight:
“I think the keys were to do well on the glass. I think we did a solid job, but we could have done a lot better, but it is just the way the game went. I think we executed pretty well on the offensive end. We got the ball where we needed to. A couple times we didn’t come up with any points, but we did exactly what Coach (Self) wanted us to do, so if we just keep doing that and listening to him, we will be there.”
On the crowd tonight:
“It was a great atmosphere tonight. The fans were unbelievable. They bring energy every night. We just have to thank them, it is just Kansas tradition.”
Baylor head coach Scott Drew
“(It was) Another typical Big 12 (Conference) game, it comes down to the last possession. Kansas executed down the stretch better than we did and we came up short. So it’s on to the next game and whoever both of us play the next game, it’s going to be another great game, that’s the Big 12. I thought we did a good job on the glass the first half, (in the) second half we didn’t do as well. I thought defensively we were good enough to win, but our turnovers continue to be an issue for us. Big differences – 23-8 on points off turnovers, so you have to give Kansas a lot of credit for getting in the passing lane, getting steals, getting out on breaks – getting some easy ones before we could set up our defense. (In the) Second half we didn’t do a good job of going inside to start the half, then they got on a run and from there we were playing catch-up.”
On Kansas freshman guard Josh Jackson:
“He’s a tremendous player and he’s starting to shoot the three now, which makes him that much harder to guard.”
On why it’s hard to win in Allen Fieldhouse:
“They have a great crowd. I think the energy and I think everyone feeds off the home crowd. That’s why it’s so tough to win on the road. One day we’ll win up here, just not this year.”
On Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III:
“The big thing was he was 12-of-12 from the free throw line. I think he’s shooting 78 percent on the season and I really have to credit them for making their free throws. They shot 74 percent as a team. I know we’ve been shooting them well too, we tried to get there more and we weren’t able to. At the end of the day, 12-of-12 from the free throw line is hard to beat.”
On Kansas’ defense:
“I thought we did a bad job of getting (Johnathan) Motley the ball. Obviously, they started doubling-up on him the first half and that carried over into the second half. We turned it over some before we could get it to him. They played some zone, in which we didn’t get it to him as much as we needed to as well.”
Baylor junior guard Manu Lecomte
On Frank Mason III’s defense at the end of the game on Lecomte at the 3-point line:
“It was good defense, even on the ball screen. The big did a good job of helping him and trapping me. They did a good job on defense.”
On if he was trying to score on one of the last drives or wanted to pass:
“I thought it was a good play. I tried to drive on No. 10 and the help was there.”
On what Baylor was trying to get set up at the end of the game:
“Just a ball screen. They did a good job of first driving the ball screen and then when I passed to (Johnathan) Motley, they did a good job of trapping him. It was kind of a miscommunication, but it’s all good.”
On if Allen Fieldhouse is the loudest venue they’ve played in:
“For me, yeah. It was definitely the loudest.”
On if the team pushed the pace to exploit Kansas’ short bench:
“It depends every game. Every game changes and I thought we did a good job of adapting.”
Baylor junior forward Johnathan Motley
On if the noise had any effect on their game:
“Not really, no.”
On Kansas’ second-half defense:
“They were just forcing us to take jumpers and not letting me touch it, as easy as that was in the first half. They did a good job of making us take jumpers and they got the ‘W.'”
On Kansas’ zone:
“It’s a good zone, but I think we did a good job bringing our plays against them. They did a good job against our zone. We just missed shots in the end; we should’ve gotten the ball inside more to (junior forward Nuni Omot) or (junior center Jo Lual-Acuil). I thought they (Kansas) did a good job in the second half adapting and not letting them (the Baylor bigs) get touches easily, so it was getting hard for us to feed them.”
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