Tom Keegan: Fearless Frank and friends make encore a memorable one

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his arm around a tearful Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) as he leaves the court for the final time on Senior Night.

Bill Walton, enabled by a split screen, turned Saturday’s broadcast from Austin into a long, strange almost unlistenable trip. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty had roles in the biggest blunders in the history of the Oscars, Hollywood’s annual evening of self-worship.

On Monday, it was the Kansas basketball team’s turn to trip all over itself. Carlton Bragg Jr. went in for a dunk and the front of the rim blocked it, sending him falling onto his back. Josh Jackson opened with a missed dunk and couldn’t stop turning it over.

But you just knew it wouldn’t last. Walton, Beatty and Dunaway, once great performers, are way past their prime.

The Jayhawks are just heating up, ready for the postseason. No way they were going to let Fearless Frank Mason’s final home game end on the court where he arrived as the guard nobody else but Towson wanted, and immediately went to work at building higher hopes and finished as a Kansas legend.

No way Devonte’ Graham was going to let Mason’s final Allen Fieldhouse memory be a bummer, so in a span of 1:57, he swished a trio of 3-pointers.

Jackson stopped turning it over, turned up the defensive heat, cleaned up on the glass. Lagerald Vick heated up from outside, making all three of his second-half 3-pointers, and Mason, Graham, Jackson and Vick used their quickness to apply full-court pressure that wilted Oklahoma’s offense.

In his final game in Allen Fieldhouse, Landen Lucas did what he does, battling for position, starting fas tbreaks with outlet passes after eight defensive rebounds and two blocked shots.

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And then there was Mason doing what he almost always does, dominating down the stretch with relentless drives, runners and long jumpers.

Mason led Kansas from a 12-point deficit in the final 9:44, gift-wrapping another happy ending for the 16,300 spectators who watched him grow into a Kansas basketball giant over four years, such a winner that his coach, Bill Self, called him, “the best guard I’ve ever coached and the national player of the year.”

Kansas finished on a 31-9 tear and Mason was the best player on the floor, giving the audience that included his son Amari, 5, a second half to remember. He scored 15 points, had five assists, two steals and one turnover in the final 20 minutes and finished the night with 23 points, six assists, three rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.

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Box score: Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63 ( .PDF )

“He was terrific down the stretch, as were Devonte’ and Lagerald,” Self said.

Opposing Big 12 players, especially the players who chase him around all night, speak of Mason in respectful tones.

“Very tough,” Oklahoma’s Kameron McGusty said. “I mean, he can shoot it, he can get to the basket, he’s super-quick. I mean, it was very tough to guard him.”

After checking out for the final time at Allen Fieldhouse with 12 seconds left, Mason cried as Self embraced him. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger must have been crying tears of joy on the inside, knowing he won’t have to face him again, unless the teams meet in the Big 12 Tournament.

“He’s terrific,” Kruger said of Mason. “Like Kam said, he can hurt you in so many different ways. He’s become such a good shooter, and with a guy who’s that quick and he can also shoot it, if you step at him at all, he can go by you. He’s strong. He’s got such good instincts on finishing, getting his body into you. He just knows how to play, great competitor. You add that all together, that’s why he’s maybe the best player in the country.”

Mason’s one of a handful of players with a shot at the Wooden award, which is a handful more than the number of players who have grown more in four years than Mason did. Mason wears that number on his jersey, which one day will hang on the wall.

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oklahoma


Comments

Dan Burns

Tom, I couldn't agree more with your opening comments about both Walton and the Oscars. In fact, if you are interested go to my KU Facebook page where I had over 1.8K who agreed with us and almost 500 negative comments. I hope ESPN gets the point. https://www.facebook.com/jayhawksBB/p...

That being said, the night was electric both during the game and after. Another amazing comeback and a senior night KU fans will not soon forget.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Marius Rowlanski

The Oscar flop was one for the ages. It made Steve Harvey's wrong call pail in comparison.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

The world would be a very different place if Frank Mason had gone to Towson, that's all I can say.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Craig Alexander

Amazing how they found him and were able to see what he could become.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Jerry Walker

“He’s a jet,” Self said. “Frank is a really, really quick guard. He’s a true point. He can get guys easy baskets. He can break people down, very similar to the way the fans saw Sherron (Collins) break people down off the bounce.”

Mason chose KU over Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“Frank is one of the best-kept secrets in high school basketball,” Self said. “I really believe even though his high school ranking is not much, he’s a guy that is as good as any guard out there.”

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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RJ King

Big shout out to Kurtis Townsend. So lucky to have him aboard.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Craig Alexander

It is definitely a different feeling when you know you did something for the very last time. A stepping stone to what I hope is a professional career for Frank. He deserves it and knows quite a bit about defying odds. Go get them in the coming tournaments Frank. We are very proud of you.

Oh and don't forget that people are probably saying you have never and never will win in Stillwater!!!! Bring the heat!!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Buck Bukaty

I was tickled to find the Senior Night Speech videos posted. Unfortunately, though, I found that 90% of what was said is inaudible. Perhaps LJW could/would hook-up an Intern with the incomparable Bob Newton, sound engineer extraordinaire, to isolate the audio, remix the videos, and repost updated videos. The Jayhawk Nation would appreciate it, and it would be an invaluable learning experience for the Intern.

Thanks Seniors!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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RJ King

Could not agree more. In the one I watched the camera shot from the corner by the visitor bench.

The majority of speaking was directed at the players and coaches and we could only see the speaker from the side or back. Can't KU position a camera somewhere behind the KU bench to that we can see the speaker more often than not?

And yes, the clumsiness of a hard mic would be offset by the fact that we could actually understand what the player is saying.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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John Myers

Hey Buck - the KU Athletics site has them posted now if you want to see better video and audio.

http://www.kuathletics.com/news/2017/...

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Buck Bukaty

Thanks, John!

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Mallory Briggans

Thanks Frank Landon and Tyler ....

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Think how much Frank Mason's life has changed since coming to Kansas. No matter what happens at the next level, Mason will always be remembered at Kansas for his gritty toughness and never give in mentality. Although I believe that Mason will have the opportunity to play in the NBA or in one of the better European leagues, Kansas has given him a sound foundation to succeed in any endeavor.

If anyone watched "Arrival", this is a true "net sum zero" where Kansas is better because of Frank Mason and Frank Mason is better for coming to Kansas.

I'm not a scientist, so if I got that wrong I'm pretty sure you get my meaning.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Suzi Marshall

Zero-sum comes from game theory in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. I don't think the term would be accurate in the Mason-Kansas example because that is a win-win situation with all kinds of synergistic effects not accounted for in zero-sum game theory.

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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Len Shaffer

"Bill Walton, enabled by a split screen, turned Saturday’s broadcast from Austin into a long, strange almost unlistenable trip."

Almost???

7 months, 3 weeks ago

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