Kansas Jayhawks

Oklahoma forward Kristian Doolittle (11) has his shot blocked as Kansas forward Landen Lucas, rear, and guard Josh Jackson (11) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Mason scores 28 as No. 2 Kansas beats Oklahoma 81-70

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Ready or not, Kansas is poised to jump to No. 1.

Frank Mason scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half, and the second-ranked Jayhawks rallied to beat Oklahoma 81-70 on Tuesday.

With No. 1 Baylor losing at West Virginia earlier in the night, Kansas will be in position to top the AP poll for the first time this season if it beats Oklahoma State on Saturday.

“We don’t deserve that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I’ve coached for a while, and I’ve felt like there’s some teams that put in the time and the effort and the toughness to earn that, but I don’t feel like this team quite has.”

Josh Jackson scored 16 points for the Jayhawks (15-1, 4-0 Big 12), who have won 15 straight. Devonte’ Graham added 13 and Landen Lucas had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Rashard Odomes and Kameron McGusty each scored 13 points for the Sooners (6-9, 0-4), who lost their seventh in a row.

Oklahoma trailed 21-14 before closing the first half on a 22-6 run to take a 36-27 lead at the break. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger called it his team’s best half of the season.

“Given the opponent, certainly, no question,” he said. “Kansas is a terrific ballclub. To be down a little bit early and come back and tie it and take the lead into the half was a good stretch, a very good stretch.”

Mason said Self was fired up at halftime.

“I can’t tell you the message, but it was — I can’t even say it,” he said. “Coach got onto us. I think we responded pretty well as a team. We’ve just got to come out better to start the game off the first half.”

Kansas took control and pushed its lead out to 15 in the second half behind Mason, who made 7 of 12 shots after the break.

“He’s terrific, just an outstanding player,” Kruger said. “He’s a winner. He takes things on his shoulders. He makes teammates around him better. He makes big-time plays in tough parts of games. Just an outstanding player.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks took sole possession of the Big 12 lead and maintained their series dominance over the Sooners, winning for the 16th time in the past 18 meetings.

Oklahoma: The Sooners were buoyed by scoring leader Jordan Woodard’s return from a leg injury. Oklahoma lost all four games without the senior guard, who had started 115 straight games before getting hurt. Woodard entered the night averaging 17.6 points. He finished with seven points in 24 minutes, and the Sooners played much better once he took the floor as a substitute.

“I really didn’t expect him to play that many minutes,” Kruger said. “I thought he got tired a couple of times, naturally, and got out. But I thought overall he was very, very good.”

STAT LINES

Kansas made 9 of 16 3-pointers in the second half and 12 of 27 overall. The Jayhawks shot 34 percent overall in the first half and 46 percent in the second. … It was Self’s 400th win at Kansas.

TURNING POINT

Oklahoma led by nine at halftime, but the Jayhawks opened the second half on a 13-0 run. A 3-pointer by Mason put Kansas up 56-47, and the Jayhawks maintained control from there.

STAR POWER

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Thunder forward Nick Collison attended the game.

UP NEXT

Kansas hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Cowboys pushed Baylor last Saturday before dropping a 61-57 decision in Waco.

Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders have wins over current No. 10 West Virginia and No. 25 Kansas State to their credit.

VIDEO: Svi Mykhailiuk beats Kansas State on a “walk off”

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 03:  Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning shot as the Jayhawks defeat the Kansas State Wildcats 90-88 to win the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 3, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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Walk, chalk, Jayhawk?

Third-ranked Kansas got the aid of a favorable whistle – or rather a silent whistle – as Svi Mykhailiuk went coast-to-coast to break a tie game at the buzzer when his layup, which came after three steps without a dribble, gave the Jayhawks a 90-88 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night.

Kansas was expected to waltz to a 13th-straight Big 12 title this season, but Mykhailiuk’s footwork in the final seconds was something else entirely. It was an obvious travel as he took three steps to get from outside the 3-point line to into the paint. Three steps, no doubt. Not allowed.

Certainly, missed calls are going to happen throughout a game, and the final seconds aren’t immune from that fact. Officials blow calls at the end of games all the time. Rarely, though, do they miss something as black and white as Mykhailiuk’s walk.

Allowing players to decide the game by allowing an extra degree of physicality is a mostly accepted part of the game, like it or not. Players get away with that all the time at the end of close games. Rarely do they get away with an extra step as egregious as Myykhailiuk’s. There was no judgement call there. There wasn’t really anything to parse, rather than just counting to three. The whistle needs to sound.

That finish draws an even brighter spotlight because for years rival Big 12 programs have grumbled about the Jayhawks getting an overly-friendly whistle at Allen Fieldhouse. Given that Kansas has won 12 Big 12 titles under Self while losing just five conference games there over that span, it’s definitely not surprising to hear those complaints and find people looking for comfort in conspiracy theories.

The reality is Kansas wins a lot at Allen Fieldhouse because Kansas is almost always the best team on the floor and the best team on the floor almost always wins at home, especially when that venue hosts over 16,000 fans and is generally considered one of the most hostile environments in the country. They get calls at home like everybody gets calls at home. If they get a few more than most, I’m more than willing to attribute that to the fact they’re often the faster, more athletic and aggressive team, which lends itself to getting the whistle to bend your way.

But endings like Tuesday’s aren’t going to quiet any complaints for the rest of the league. Gasoline meet fire, really.

What the ending also does is overshadow the fact that Kansas State put together a fantastic effort against Kansas, at least on offense. They shot 50.8 percent from the floor and had five players score in double figures. The 1.22 points per possession they scored were the most surrendered by the Jayhawks since the 2014-15 season, per Brian Goodman of Rush The Court. That’s incredibly encouraging for a K-State team that hasn’t been particularly potent offensively and certainly didn’t have a win on its resume coming into the game that would suggest they could knock off Kansas in Lawrence.

The conversation, though, will be about those final seconds, that extra step and Kansas once again winning at home.

College Basketball Talk Top 25: Villanova is the new No. 1

Villanova head coach Jay Wright shouts instructions to his team during the first half of N NCAA college basketball game against Miami in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
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1. Villanova (14-0, Last Week: No. 2): It feels like what Villanova is doing this season is still flying under the radar despite the fact that they are undefeated and the No. 1 team in the country while staking claim as the reigning national champions.

2. UCLA (14-1, 3): UCLA lost on the road on a game-winner with 0.7 seconds left to a team that I now have in the top ten, a team that was in the preseason top five before we realized that Dillon Brooks, who is now healthy and mowing down opponents, wasn’t at 100 percent to start the year. I’m not concerned in the least.

3. Kansas (12-1, 4): The Jayhawks survived a scrappy TCU team in their Big 12 opener thanks to a punishing performance from center Landen Lucas. He has suddenly turned into the most important player on the Kansas team now that Udoka Azubuike is out for the year with a wrist injury.

4. Kentucky (11-2, 5): Kentucky put together their most complete performance on the season last week when they beat Ole Miss in Oxford. Isaiah Briscoe put up a triple-double, Bam Adebayo played his best game of the season and Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox did the things that Monk and Fox do.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

5. Duke (12-2, 1): So what do we do with the Blue Devils? I’m still in the camp that says that Duke has the highest ceiling of any team in the country, and I also think we’ve underrated just how good Virginia Tech is this season; the Hokies would be undefeated right now if they hadn’t choked away a loss to Texas A&M in the Wooden Legacy semifinals. This isn’t like Duke going to Boston College and taking a beating.

But Duke still took a beating, and the biggest concern was that the Blue Devils seemed to lack the effort and the intensity to make the plays they needed to make defensively. They almost looked selfish offensively, as the lack of a point guard on that roster was glaring. They played without Grayson Allen, who was serving the first game of his suspension, but the issues Duke had on display were much bigger than Allen.

Put another way, Saturday made me think that Duke may not ever get to their ceiling. But hey, at least Harry Giles III finally scored a point.

(UPDATE: And now Coach K will miss up to a month to recover from back surgery.)

RELATED: Player of the Week | Team of the Week | Five Takeaways

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6. Gonzaga (14-0, 8): The Bulldogs were pushed by both Pacific and Pepperdine this week, but came out unscathed with double-digit wins. There is a real chance that Gonzaga could head into Moraga on Feb. 11th as the lone undefeated team in college basketball.

7. Baylor (14-0, 9): The Bears keep rolling along. On Saturday, they opened up Big 12 play by mollywhopping Oklahoma in Norman. It is going to be fun when the Bears get together with Kansas this season, on Feb. 1st and Feb. 18th.

8. Wisconsin (12-2, 11): While Indiana lost twice last week and Purdue dropped a home game to Minnesota, the Badgers continue to roll along. Since Nigel Hayes made the change to being a point forward, the Badgers have looked like a totally different team.

9. Louisville (12-2, 7): Outside of Duke, Louisville is the hardest team in this poll to rank. They beat Kentucky, but they beat Kentucky by three in a game they were favored by two on their home floor, the same home floor where they were smacked around by Virginia just five days ago. But then the Cardinals turned around and gave Indiana a similar whooping in Indiana. Wherever you have them ranked, here’s what you need to admit: the Cards are, right now, as good as, if not better than any team in the ACC.

10. Oregon (13-2, 21): Oregon vaults up to No. 10 in our poll for one, simple reason: they’re back.

11. West Virginia (12-1, 12)
12. North Carolina (12-3, 6)
13. Creighton (13-1, 10)
14. Florida State (14-1, 25)
15. Virginia (11-2, 18)
16. Xavier (12-2, 16)
17. Saint Mary’s (12-1, 17)
18. Arizona (14-2, 22)
19. Cincinnati (13-2, 20)
20. Butler (12-2, 13)
21. Purdue (12-3, 14)
22. Virginia Tech (12-1, UR)
23. Notre Dame (12-2, 23)
24. USC (14-1, 19)
25. Indiana (10-4, 15)

DROPPED OUT: No. 24 Seton Hall
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Virginia Tech

Josh Jackson leads No. 3 Kansas past UNLV 71-53

Kansas guard Josh Jackson dunks against UNLV during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
AP Photo/David Becker
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LAS VEGAS (AP) Josh Jackson scored 21 points, Svi Mykhailiuk had 20 and Frank Mason III added 13, as No. 3 Kansas beat UNLV 71-53 on Thursday night, extending its winning streak to 11 games.

Kansas got 12 rebounds and four points from Landen Lucas.

The Jayhawks (11-1) haven’t lost since a season-opening 103-99 overtime setback to Indiana, in Honolulu.

UNLV (7-6) was led by Tyrell Green’s 12 points, with Jalen Poyser and Uche Ofoegbu adding 10 points each. It was the Runnin’ Rebels’ third loss to a Top 25 team in their last five games.

UNLV tried making things interesting by opening the second half on a 15-7 run, cutting into Kansas’ lead, making it 49-35 at the 14:30 mark. In that span, the Jayhawks shot just 30 percent, while the Rebels hit 6 of 7 (85.7 percent).

Moments later, Jackson shifted momentum back in Kansas’ direction when he drove baseline for a vicious slam dunk to push the Jayhawks ahead 56-40, while igniting a 6-0 run. Kansas extended its lead to 64-44, while the Rebels missed eight of nine shot attempts.

But UNLV wasn’t done, as an 8-0 run by the Rebels cut the lead to 12 with a little less than 4 minutes remaining.

Mykhailiuk’s slashing layup down the right side of the key ended Kansas’ scoring drought, which he followed up with a 3-pointer a minute later to essentially seal the victory.

Kansas finished the game shooting 44 percent (28 of 63), while UNLV shot 35 percent (19 of 55).

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks improved to 11-3 in games preceding Christmas under Self’s watch. Since a 14-point loss to Nevada in 2003, in his first season at Kansas, Self has put his players on notice there is no room for mediocrity heading into Christmas break.

UNLV: UNLV’s other Top 25 losses included a 20-point setback to Oregon and a 49-point thrashing at the hands of Duke. And despite starting the season with just three returning scholarship players, the Rebels concluded their non-conference slate above .500.

UP NEXT

Kansas will take eight days off before opening Big 12 play at TCU on Dec. 30.

UNLV opens its Mountain West Conference schedule next Wednesday at Colorado State.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Kansas freshman Azubuike out for season with injury

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Kansas’ frontcourt got thinner Wednesday.

Freshman center Udoka Azubuike is out for the season after suffering a wrist injury, the school announced.

Surgery should take place in the next few weeks and doctors are confident he will make a full recovery and be full speed sometime this summer,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “This is a blow to our team but I know that we will rally around this and Udoka will work hard to insure a full recovery. “

Azubuike, who is not NBA draft eligible until 2018, was averaging five points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 12.9 minutes per game for Kansas, which has won 10-straight since dropping its season opener to Indiana. The Jayhawks face UNLV on Thursday before opening Big 12 play next week.

The 7-foot, 280-pounder was part of a frontcourt by committee for Self with Landen Lucas, Carlton Bragg and Mitchell Lightfoot all spending time there alongside freshman phenom Josh Jackson at power forward.

While there isn’t another 7-footer to take Azubuike’s place, the Jayhawks do have a ton of lineup versatility with players like Jackson, Svi Mykhailiuk, Lightfoot and Lagerald Vick that can slide up and down the lineup. Self doesn’t have a ready-made replacement, but he’s got plenty of options for how to move forward.

Jackson leads No. 3 Kansas past pesky Davidson, 89-71

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 10: Josh Jackson #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks he ball against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Allen Field House on December 10, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) It took Carlton Bragg Jr. about 20 minutes to knock the rust off.

Took about the same amount of time for Kansas.

Playing for the first time in a week, the third-ranked Jayhawks were sluggish in falling behind pesky Davidson on Saturday night. But they dominated in the paint in the second half, began getting into transition and ran away from the Wildcats for an 89-71 victory at Sprint Center.

Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III led the way with 18 points apiece, but Bragg added seven points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in his return from a brief suspension.

“He didn’t really play well in the first half,” Mason said, “but we told him in the locker room, `Stay aggressive, stay confident,’ and that’s what he did. I was happy to have him back out here.”

Bragg had been suspended following his arrest on suspicion of battery, but the misdemeanor charge was dismissed this week after video evidence surfaced that showed him acting in self-defense. The woman who had accused the sophomore forward of shoving her has been charged instead.

“I thought Carlton played well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Svi Mykhailiuk also had 13 points for the Jayhawks (10-1), who extended their nation-leading home winning streak to 49 games. Kansas considered the matchup with the Wildcats (5-4) a home game even though it was played just down the road from its campus in Lawrence.

It was the Jayhawks’ eighth straight win in the building, including the Big 12 Tournament last season and the CBE Classic a few weeks ago. It’s also the same building where they will not only contest the league tournament in March but hope to land in the NCAA Tournament with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Peyton Aldridge hit five 3s and had 22 points to lead the Wildcats, while Jack Gibbs – the nation’s fourth-leading scorer coming into the game – had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

“We had a great opportunity in front of us and for about 25 minutes I thought we handled it very well,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said, “and then I think the statistics bear out they just annihilated us in the paint, and they annihilated us in transition.”

Davidson spoiled the holidays for the Jayhawks nearly five years ago to the day when it rolled into the same building and upset a team that would reach the Final Four. And just like that night, the Wildcats relied on superior toughness and a bevy of 3-pointers to cause all kinds of problems Saturday night.

Davidson hit seven 3s in the first half alone, taking a 43-42 lead into the locker room. The only other time the Jayhawks have trailed at the break this season came in a win over Duke.

Kansas was 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in the first half.

The Wildcats extended their lead to five early in the second half before Jackson finally hit from the perimeter. Mason added another 3-pointer, and the Jayhawks clawed their way back in the game.

It was 58-all with just over 11 minutes left when Landen Lucas converted an alley-oop dunk, triggering a 10-2 run that allowed Kansas to seize control. Mykhailiuk hit a 3-pointer during the run, and Bragg Jr. hit a bunch of free throws to cap it.

Kansas later pushed the decisive charge to 20-4 as it wrapped up its 10th straight win.

“They’re a team that really moves a lot on offense, set a lot of screens. It was kind of hard to keep up with our man out there,” Jackson said, “but I think we made a couple – What am I trying to stay? – we made a couple of adjustments on defense that really helped us out.”

STATS AND STREAKS

Kansas had a 48-22 advantage in the paint, including a 23-9 edge on second-chance points. … The Jayhawks scored 16 points off turnovers. Davidson managed two. … The Wildcats wrapped up a stretch of seven of eight games away from home. … Aldridge needs four more points for 1,000 for his career./

BIC PICTURE

Davidson finally gets a break in the schedule. The Wildcats lost to fifth-ranked North Carolina their last time out, the first time they’ve played back-to-back games against Top 5 opponents since 2008.

Kansas showed that it could overcome a lethargic outing to win a game. The Jayhawks have barely been challenged since their win over Duke on Nov. 15 in New York.

UP NEXT

Davidson plays Jacksonville on Wednesday night in its first home game since Nov. 26.

Kansas visits UNLV on Thursday night in its last game before Big 12 play.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org