University of Kansas

Kansas holds off Oklahoma State 87-80 for 35th straight Big 12 home victory

Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood stopped to speak with Kansas senior guard Frank Mason in the handshake line after the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks’ narrow, come-from-behind 87-80 victory over the Cowboys on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

“I told him if it (season) ended today, in my opinion he’d be National Player of the Year. He refuses to let them lose, both ends of the court,” Underwood said of the 5-foot-11 Petersburg, Va., native, who not only hounded standout OSU guard Jawun Evans defensively, but also led the Jayhawks in scoring with 22 points off 6-of-16 shooting.

Mason’s work on defense — the 6-foot-1 Evans hit 6 of 22 shots and was 0 of 2 from three en route to 15 points— sparked a KU team that found a way to win on a day the Jayhawks (16-1, 5-0 Big 12) hit 5 of 20 threes and 30 of 45 free throws against the Cowboys (10-7, 0-5).

“Today I thought Frank was average but competed hard and did a good job on Jawun the second half, really good,” KU coach Bill Self said.

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Mason — who returned compliments himself after receiving a big one from Underwood — was joined in double figures by Devonté Graham (21 points, 17 in the second half), Josh Jackson (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Svi Mykhailiuk 14 points (just 1 of 6 from three).

“I was telling Jawun after the game to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s going to be great,” Mason said. “He’s a great young guy. The Big 12 has some good point guards,” Mason added.

Evans was joined in double figures by forward Jeffrey Carroll, who had a game-high 23 points, Mitchell Solomon, who scored 16 — all the second half — and Phil Forte, who, guarded closely by KU’s Graham, finished with 10 off 3-of-10 shooting (2 of 8 from three).

“I thought he (Graham) did a fabulous job on Phil,” Self said. “Forte made a hard three right off the bat. After that I thought we did a good job defending him,” Self added.

Senior guard Forte hit a three two-and-a-half minutes into the game as OSU raced to leads of 12-4 and 19-8. The Cowboys remained in front until Graham converted a layup to give the Jayhawks a 50-49 lead with 14:08 remaining.

A few minutes later, Graham cashed a huge three that busted a 62-62 tie and actually gave KU the lead for good at 9:01. The game remained close, but the Jayhawks did not trail down the stretch after that bucket from the corner.

“Of all the guys on our team I thought (Graham) was maybe the most clutch guy we had today,” Self said.

KU’s coach was not thrilled with the Jayhawks’ play in the first 10 minutes.

“Obviously we got off to a rocky start and they were so much better than us early,” Self said, noting “we didn’t shoot well at all today (44.1 percent from field). Devonté made three (threes in seven attempts), everybody else was pretty cold. Of course they were making everything (45.6 percent of their shots; 7 of 19 from three) and their pressure bothered us the whole game. We finally just drove their pressure. That was our only offense and we shot a lot of free throws because of that. Of course we didn’t make them, but got the opportunity to shoot them,” Self added.

With the victory, KU will likely move up one spot to No. 1 in the AP and USA Today polls on Monday.

“I don’t think we were overly impressive today,” Self said, commenting about the possibility of moving atop the rankings. “I think we’ve been pretty consistent for 16 straight games (victories after season-opening loss to Indiana). I don’t know if we’ll be 1 or Villanova will jump us or whatever. I feel we’ve done more than we had done two weeks ago. Who knows if that means anything. It’s really not a big deal. I’d much rather be 5-0 in the league than No. 1. At least we got that.”

Underwood at one point in his postgame news conference called KU, “now the No. 1 team in the country.”

“I don’t care who we play. I think we have a chance every single night to fight and win,” Underwood added of the league’s last-place squad playing the first-place team. “I expected to win tonight. … I told the team I’m 0-9 in this building,” he added of his record as a Kansas State player and assistant coach and now an OSU coach in Allen. “Hurry up and get the heck out of here,” he added with a smile.

Self said the focus quickly turns to Monday’s game at Iowa State.

“We are not going to apologize for this. 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,” Self said.

One negative heading into that game might be the free throwing of Jackson, who was 7 of 11 the final half after going 3 of 6 the first half.

“Josh got to the free throw line and did not convert, but he got there which is a good thing,” Self said.

Of his work at the line Saturday, the 6-8 Jackson said: “My free throws have been kind of bad, kind of poor. A lot of teams would like to send me to the line. It’s something I’m still working on.”

A positive is Jackson, who has had three technicals this season, did not receive a “T” after expressing displeasure on a charging call Saturday.

“I don’t think I kept my cool. I could have handled it a little better than I did,” said Jackson who did race backward toward midcourt after the second-half call. “Sometimes I don’t agree with a call it gets to me a little bit. I’m glad I didn’t get a technical this time.”

Self said of the issue of technical fouls, “I didn’t bring it up with him. I just told him to keep his mouth shut. Of course his reply, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ I’ve never known a player who does do anything wrong. After he gets time to digest things, he is very rational in his thoughts.”

NOTES: KU’s Graham said he “tweaked” his knee early in the second half, but said he was OK. He played 17 minutes the final half. Landen Lucas had his right hand wrapped. He hurt his hand in Tuesday’s Oklahoma game, Self said. Lucas grabbed 12 rebounds and scored seven points in 30 minutes. KU upped its Allen Fieldhouse win streak to 49 games. KU won its 35th straight league game in Allen. Oklahoma State is the last conference team to win in Allen, back in 2013. Solomon’s 6-for-6 shooting performance accounted for most field goals without a miss by a KU foe since Iowa State’s Stevie Johnson went 5-for-5 on Feb. 21, 1998. Jackson’s 17 free throws attempts are most by a Jayhawk since Kelly Oubre had 19 against TCU on March 12, 2015.

No. 2 KANSAS 87, OKLAHOMA STATE 80

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Oklahoma St.

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Hammonds

9

0-1

0-0

0

4

0

Solomon

21

6-6

4-6

4

5

16

Evans

34

6-22

3-3

1

4

15

Forte III

34

3-10

2-2

6

2

10

Carroll

33

9-14

2-2

7

2

23

Dillard

20

3-7

0-1

8

3

6

Waters

18

3-4

0-0

0

2

8

Averette

15

1-2

0-0

4

3

2

N’Guessan

12

0-1

0-0

1

3

0

McGriff

4

0-1

0-0

0

2

0

Totals

200

31-68

11-14

31

30

80

Percentages: FG .456, FT .786. Three-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (Carroll 3-3, Waters 2-3, Forte 2-8, Dillard 0-1, Hammonds 0-1, McGriff 0-1, Evans 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 10 (7 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Evans, Hammonds, Solomon). Turnovers: 10 (Evans 4, Waters 3, Carroll, Dillard, Forte). Steals: 8 (Solomon 3, Evans 2, Dillard, Forte, Hammonds). Technical Fouls: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Lucas

30

2-2

3-4

12

3

7

Graham

36

8-14

2-4

3

0

21

Jackson

34

5-13

10-17

11

3

20

Mason

39

6-16

9-12

5

3

22

Mykhailiuk

32

5-10

3-4

4

4

14

Vick

20

0-3

2-2

5

1

2

Bragg

9

0-1

1-2

2

0

1

Totals

200

26-59

30-45

42

14

87

Percentages: FG .441, FT .667. Three-Point Goals: 5-20, .250 (Graham 3-7, Mason 1-4, Mykhailiuk 1-6, Jackson 0-1, Vick 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 10 (11 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Jackson 2, Graham, Lucas, Mykhailiuk). Turnovers: 10 (Vick 3, Jackson 2, Mason 2, Graham, Lucas, Mykhailiuk). Steals: 8 (Jackson 4, Graham 2, Mason, Mykhailiuk). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Oklahoma State 40-36. Attendance: 16,300.

AP-WF-01-14-17 2141GMT

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