Kansas Notebook

Freshman guard Frank Mason steps up for Jayhawks

Updated: 2014-02-09T05:35:27Z

First half

•  Key play: KU freshman Andrew Wiggins closed out the first half with a follow dunk that stretched the lead to 43-36.

•  Key stat: KU shot 58 percent.

Second half

•  Key play: With an eight-point lead and more than 3 minutes left, junior guard Naadir Tharpe landed a dagger three that pushed the lead to 77-66.

•  Key stat: West Virginia scored just 18 total points in the paint.

Mason steps up

Late in the second half, KU freshman guard Frank Mason was at the scorer’s table quietly doing a couple of pushups. It was a strange scene, but perhaps it made sense.

“I just felt like doing some,” said Mason, who also provided a spark with five assists in the first half.

Mason finished with five points, while junior guard Naadir Tharpe (five points) struggled on offense. Mason also added the highlight of the first half, crossing over West Virginia’s Gary Browne in transition and leaving him awkwardly falling to the floor.

“If you were going to pick three guys and say who was the most valuable player in the game, I’d definitely take Frank, Jamari (Traylor) and Tarik (Black),” coach Bill Self said. “They were great in the first half.”

• Freshman center Joel Embiid landed awkwardly late in the second half, tweaking his back. Embiid said he had treatment after the game, and Self said he appeared fine.

“He came down funny on the other end when he got fouled, but that’s why I was going to sub for him,” Self said. “But he’s fine. At least he better be.”

• Kansas honored members of the 1974 Final Four team during the game, including head coach Ted Owens and players Donnie Von Moore, Tom Kivisto, Roger Morningstar and Tommie Smith.

“It’s cool,” Self said. “I hope I’m around when they bring the ’08 team and ’12 team back in 2035 or 2040. But it’s cool to see coach (Owens) come back, because he’s still connected to all his players. He does a remarkable job of staying in touch with folks.”

| Rustin Dodd, rdodd@kcstar.com

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