No. 3 Kansas sweeps Sunflower Showdown series with Big Monday win, 74-71

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – No. 3 Kansas basketball clinched a sweep of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown regular season series against K-State with a 74-71 victory on Monday at Bramlage Coliseum.

National Player of the Year front-runner Frank Mason III led the Jayhawks with 21 points, including 5-of-6 shooting at the free throw line in the last five minutes, to seal KU’s 21st win of the season. Freshman guard Josh Jackson contributed 18 points in just 25 minutes of action.

Kansas (21-3, 9-2 Big 12) held K-State to 38 percent shooting two days after the Wildcats defeated No. 2 Baylor on the road. KSU (16-8, 5-6) was led by a 20-point effort from forward Dean Wade.

Josh Jackson scored 18 points on Monday night in Manhattan.

A trio of early 3-pointers from K-State put the Jayhawks in a 12-point hole six minutes into regulation. KU slowly mounted a rally as sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr., checked in for the first time since Jan. 24, almost immediately scored back-to-back buckets.  

Jackson helped break up KU’s deficit with a steal and fast-break dunk to cut KSU’s lead to six with under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

With the help of 3-pointers from Mason and sophomore guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Bragg made a layup to complete a 12-point comeback in nearly 11 minutes as Kansas took a 28-27 lead at the four-minute mark of the first half.

Kansas went into halftime with a 37-35 lead. Jackson notched 11 first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Jayhawks. K-State broke out to a 12-point lead in the first six minutes of regulation, but KU ensued to chip away at its deficit to regain a lead with under four minutes remaining in the half on a layup by Bragg.  

After averaging 5.5 points off the bench in the last four games, the Jayhawks began Monday night with eight bench points in the first half alone. Bragg came off the pine for the first time since Jan. 24, scoring six first-half points on 3-of-3 shooting.

Kansas started the second half on a 10-1 run, fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers by Jackson on the Jayhawks’ first two possessions of the half to quiet the purple-clad crowd.

KU’s offense grew stagnant with just one field goal – a 3-pointer by Graham – during a span of six minutes of regulation to allow Kansas State to cut its deficit to one point, 57-56, with seven minutes remaining.

K-State briefly took a 60-59 lead after a jumper by Wade. Mason made two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the lane to give Kansas the go-ahead lead, 61-60, with over four minutes remaining.

The Jayhawks and Wildcats traded buckets as KU made 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory.

Kansas will play at Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m., on either ESPN or ESPN2. Kansas hosts West Virginia on ESPN Big Monday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m., and will then play at Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 18 at noon on CBS.


Bill Self
On Frank Mason’s second half steal…
“He is tough. First of all, it is our own fault. We kind of screwed the play up and then he went to save it. I do not know if the threw it between his legs or back behind his back to save it, then to jump over the table, then go steal it to have the easiest basket of the game only to dribble it out of bounds. He showed a little bit of everything. If I am not mistaken that was all in the same play, so he showed a little bit of everything. That was a good basketball game. Two teams competing hard against each other. Certainly, I thought they played well and some individuals had exceptional nights. I thought Dean [Wade] was terrific. I thought [Wesley] Iwundu was great on the glass and D.J. [Johnson] always gives us problems. I thought our guys competed really hard, if you take away one statistic, or two because we do not make free throws.  If you take away the defensive board play, we really guarded tonight and we did a good job defensively.”

On all around play from Frank Mason…
“I am biased, but he makes big plays and he makes hard shots. He does not shoot near as many free throws as I think he should, but as on the ball defender, he is about as good as anyone else. He does a lot to give a team a chance to win.”

On playing Josh Jackson with 4 fouls…
“I was thinking the whole time that as long as we had the lead, I was going to try to keep him on the bench for as long as possible. I think we subbed him back in at about 5:58 or six minute mark. I could be off, but I was just trying to keep him over there as long as we could.”

On Dean Wade…
“I do not think there is a mismatch problem, I just thing he is a good basketball player. He is a Kansas kid that is playing against KU, just like Perry Ellis was a Kansas kid playing against K-State. I do not think there is a mismatch. I do think that when you switch off ball screens and then he gets in the post he can do some things against a smaller guy. I do think they play to that quite a bit and he hurt us with that. He is a good player and he shot the heck out of it, going 3-for-3 from three point range.”
Freshman guard Josh Jackson
On Frank Mason’s toughness…
“I have never met a guy as small as him and as tough as him. The plays he makes like that really tend to rub off on all of us. We see him make a play like that and it really steps up everybody’s defensive intensity.”

On being in foul trouble in the second half…
“Coming out of the game, especially after being in rhythm, is always going to slow me down a little bit. My teammates did a real good job of holding the lead down while I was out. I came back in and we just kept playing defense.”

On late 3-pointer by Svi [Mykhailiuk]…
“I just saw Svi [Mykhailiuk]’s man come and help under the basket, so I knew he was wide open. I do not know if any of you know, but any time Svi is wide open you give him the ball.”

Senior guard Frank Mason III
On diving into the press table…
“We turned the ball over and I saw [Wesley] Iwundu get the ball. He lost control of it, so I came from behind him and I tried to throw it between my legs so we could get possession of it. I ended up throwing it to them, dove into the crowd and knocked a few people over. I tried to hurry and get back up, so it could be a 5-on-5 instead of a 4-on-5. I hurt my elbow, but it is alright. I will be good.”

On egging on the crowd…
“I just wanted more energy for the last few seconds. I was just trying to get the crowd into it even more and make the game more fun.”

On K-State’s toughness…
“I think they are well coached and do a great job of playing together. They are a great defensive team that is always showing strong help. Guys seem like they locked into their scouting report and things like that, so I think they do a good job with that.”

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber
On K-State’s effort…
“We play hard, we competed and we have got a good group. I have said it all along that we have great kids that really care and they want to do well. Today, we just took some quick shots. We needed to be more patient and feed the ball the right way. Wesley [Iwundu] charges, we skip the long pass, we have some opportunities to be solid and they are really good. They are one of the top five teams in the country. There is no doubt about that. We played them both games to the last possession. Like you say, there are no moral victories. It does not do us any good. We have got to find a way to win. I thought we had a great start with an unbelievable crowd. It is a special atmosphere. I cannot say enough to be a part of that. They were going to make a run and they did. That was the only stretch I thought we were not good on defense. In the second half, we had our chances. We tied it. It was inside-out, they hit the big three. We came down and took a quick shot, trying to hit homeruns or grand slams with nobody on base.”
On Wesley Iwundu’s possible final performance against Kansas…
“He gives us great effort. I told him after that he has not gotten many offensive rebounds all year. I told him to do that in all of the games. He is very capable. He is long and that is what makes him special.”

On Frank Mason’s effort…
“He is just so poised. He makes big plays and big shots. I thought Barry [Brown] made him earn a lot of it. He almost plays the whole game and he is a good player. He has got to be in consideration for Player of the Year in our league and Player of the Year in the country.”

On Kamau Stokes shot selection at the end of the game…
“He is a good 3-point shooter. He is one of our better percentages. He made big shots the other day. I think sometimes he has to depend on his teammates. Sometimes it is your shot, sometimes there is a better shot. I just do not think we made the better play or the extra pass to get the better shot. I think it goes back to the assists. Last time they beat us, we had a lot of assists but they had more. This time it was the same thing. They play very unselfish, they move the ball, and when they are ready, when the guy makes the right pass, they are ready to jump up and make the key shot.”

Kansas State senior forward Wesley Iwundu
On the end of game…
“We were just stuck in the moment at that time. We just have to step up and make more plays. We need to try to do some things to win the game.”

On rivalry against KU throughout his career…
“It is a great rivalry and a great experience being here at K-State during my four years. I was lucky enough to get two wins and that is a good accomplishment for me. I wish I could have got this one tonight, but we are moving forward. We still have some games left in the season and still have a lot of things to accomplish. I am just looking toward the future and putting this one past me. I will always remember these types of games, I bleed purple. I will always be against KU no matter what. I just wish this one would have went different tonight.”

Looking back on the game…
“This is very forgiving. You have to put the game you just played behind you and get ready for the next. We have a big game coming up Saturday and anything can happen. This one is over with and we are looking forward to West Virginia on Saturday.”

Kansas State sophomore forward Dean Wade
On what playing KU means…
“I think it means the same to the whole team. It was a big game and we were all ready for it. We had a lot of energy and emotions going into it. I think growing up as a kid and watching it means a lot to me.”

On his 20-point performance…
“I think it had a lot to do with my teammates. They were looking at mismatches and getting me the ball when I was open. I have to give all the credit to them.”

On taking advantage of mismatches…
“My coaches and teammates have been telling me if I get a big guy, go outside. If it is a guard, post him up and use my post moves.”

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