Kansas Jayhawks

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March Madness 2017: Big 12 Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big 12 Player of the Year: Frank Mason III, Kansas

Mason’s play this season makes him the no-brainer conference player of the year and perhaps the frontrunner for the national award. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and a sizzling 49.3 percent from 3-point range for the potential No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas

There was a temptation to reward Brad Underwood for Oklahoma State’s turnaround, but it’s impossible not to recognize Self leading his program not only to a 13th-straight conference title, but doing it by four games in the country’s toughest league. Kansas may have the top talent in the league year in and year out, but Self’s presence on the sideline guarantees it comes together year in and year out. This season was no exception.

First-Team All-Big 12:

  • Frank Mason III, Kansas (POY)
  • Monte Morris, Iowa State: The nation’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio is as consistent an elite presence on the floor as there is in the country.
  • Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: The most dynamic and important piece of the country’s best offense, Evans averaged 18.7 points per game.
  • Josh Jackson, Kansas: Mason is Kansas’ MVP, but Jackson is the Jayhawks’ most difficult matchup and is a likely top-five NBA draft pick.
  • Johnathan Motley, Baylor: The big man doubled his rebounding output this season to average a double-double of 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Second Team All-Big 12:

  • Jevon Carter, West Virginia
  • Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma State
  • Devonte Graham, Kansas
  • Deonte Burton, Iowa State
  • Jo Lual-Acuil, Baylor

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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The thought was coming into the year that the Big 12 would be down this season, but for the fourth-straight year it ranked as the country’s best conference by KenPom. Another thing that didn’t change was Kansas winning the league, making it 13 in a row for the Jayhawks. The league isn’t going to send a huge number to the NCAA tournament this season, but make no mistake, the conference’s round-robin schedule was a grind, making it all the more impressive Kansas cleared the league by four games.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Sprint Center; Kansas City, Mo.

Final: Saturday, March 11, 6 p.m.

Favorite: Kansas

The Jayhawks are clearly the class of the Big 12, winning the conference by its largest margin since 2010. Kansas isn’t invulnerable at the Sprint Center, as the rest of the league has more than enough firepower to threaten them, but there’s no argument that makes anyone else the favorite.

And if they lose?: West Virginia

The Mountaineers should have swept Kansas this year. They rocked them in Morgantown, but blew a late lead in spectacular fashion in Lawrence later in the season. Their Press Virginia style seems to seriously bother the Jayhawks, and it could make for a raucous title game.

MORGANTOWN, WV - JANUARY 24: Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts to a call in the second half during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at WVU Coliseum on January 24, 2017 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Bob Huggins (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Baylor: The Bears went 2-4 against the top-four of the conference, but their length and the talent of Johnathan Motley makes them an intriguing matchup
  • Iowa State: The Cyclones have won six of their last seven and three members of their core — Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas — who have won two Big 12 tournament titles in their career. They’ve also have claimed wins against each of the other top teams in the league this year.

Sleeper: Oklahoma State

The Cowboys opened the Big 12 slate with six-straight losses, but then won nine of 10 before ending the season with losses to Iowa State and Kansas. Their defense is porous, but their top-ranked KenPom offense, led by point guard Jawun Evans, makes them a legitimate threat to reel off three wins in three days.

The Bubble Dwellers: One

  • Kansas State: Most projections have the Wildcats just on the bad side of the field of 68 line, which means they’ll probably have to score a win against Baylor in the quarterfinals to move the needle. Depending on what happens around the rest of the country, that one more win could be enough to earn a berth.

Defining moment of the season: Kansas erasing a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes at home against West Virginia. This is Peak Phog Allen.

CBT Prediction: Kansas

No. 1 Kansas rallies to beat Oklahoma 73-63 on Senior Night

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Frank Mason III scored 23 points in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse, Devonte Graham hit a series of crucial 3-pointers in the second half and top-ranked Kansas rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat Oklahoma 73-63 on Monday night.

Graham finished with 16 points and Josh Jackson had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Big 12 champion Jayhawks (27-3, 15-2), who trailed 54-42 before finishing the game on a 31-11 run.

The Sooners (10-19, 4-13) were poised to spring a big upset on the day the Jayhawks ascended to No. 1 for the first time this season. But after they took their biggest lead with just over 10 minutes to go, Mason got the comeback started with a nifty basket inside.

He added a steal moments later to set up Lagerald Vick’s 3-pointer, and Jackson scored before Graham hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc. And when Mason added another basket moments later, the Jayhawks had put together a 17-2 charge that gave them a 64-58 lead with about 5 minutes left.

Kansas slowly drew away to make senior night memorable for Mason, big man Landen Lucas and reserve guard Tyler Self, whose father – Kansas coach Bill Self – called him “my favorite Jayhawk of all time.”

VIDEO: Kansas’ Carlton Bragg misses breakaway dunk

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There are few things more exciting in sports than a player dunking on a fast break.

There are few things funnier than a player flubbing that dunk.

Kansas’ Carlton Bragg proved that second point Monday in the second half of the No. 1 Jayhawks’ game at Allen Fieldhouse against Oklahoma.

There’s a strange beauty in that, isn’t there?

Report: Kansas’ Vick found likely to have struck female student by school investigation

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Kansas sophomore Lagerald Vick was found to have “likely hit a female student multiple times” in 2015 after a university investigation, according to the Kansas City Star.

Vick was accused of punching the student in the arm multiple times as well as kicking her in the face. The school’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access conducted an investigation that found Vick likely had committed domestic violence under the standard of preponderance of evidence, meaning it was found to have been more likely than not to have occurred, according to the Star.

Vick has not been charged with a crime, the Star wrote.

It was recommended that Vick be put on two-year university probation, though it was unclear if that was implemented, the Star reported.

Vick has appeared in every game this season for the Jayhawks, and is averaging 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. He played fewer than 5 minutes per game last year as a freshman.

The revelation regarding Vick comes on the heels of a number of off-the-court headlines for Kansas basketball.

Carleton Bragg is currently serving an indefinite suspension after he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Police reportedly found the paraphernalia in the course of their investigation of an alleged rape of a 16-year-old at McCarthy Hall, the dormitory that houses Kansas men’s basketball players as well as other male students. Police have not released any information about a suspect in the case, according to the Star. Police have said there is “no indication that the drug paraphernalia is related to the sexual assault case,” according to the Star

Bragg was previously suspended this season after he was charged with misdemeanor battery, a charge which was later dismissed.

The third-ranked Jayhawks host No. 2 Baylor on Wednesday night.

 

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”

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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.