KUAD postgame box score, notes, photos, videos, more
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With the game tied 27-27, 2:05 left in the first half and UNLV feeling plucky, there's Frank Mason, cutting into a passing lane, intercepting the ball like a cornerback on the close and racing in for the quick layup.
Fast forward to the 11:20 mark of the second half, the Runnin' Rebels up 51-49, defying the ghosts of The Phog and there's Mason, crashing the lane with another dagger.
There's Mason with the trey at 9:56, then another scoop at 9:11, pushing the Kansas lead to 58-51 and capping a 9-0 Jayhawk run.
"That (scoop) is something I always work on in practice," said Mason, whose 18 points and seven assists pulled No. 13 KU past UNLV, 76-61. "We've got a lot of tall guys like Cliff (Alexander), Landen (Lucas), Perry Ellis and Jamari (Traylor), so I work on things like that during practice."
Mason is 5-foot-11 with a 6-foot-9 spine. The really, really, really good point guards, the ones who stick, have a tendency to share that trait as well.
No fear. No worry. No panic. When the tension in the air is thick enough to spread on rye, they're the ones who want the butter knife.
Yes, Arizona is far better than Kansas. Nothing can discount the Rebels’ performance in that victory two weeks ago, but they were at the Thomas & Mack Center. And perhaps nothing can match the pure elation from the win over North Carolina at the Orleans in Rice’s first year.
Given the venue, however, this win would have differentiated itself. Consider Kansas coach Bill Self has celebrated more New Year's, 13, than moaned home losses, 13, since taking the job with the Jayhawks.
The Rebels had Self and his team bleeding at halftime. UNLV took a 33-29 lead into the locker room by bruising Kansas.
…A pregame video declared Kansas having “the best home-court advantage in the nation,” but UNLV put it to the test. They answered every strike with one of their own until 11 minutes remained in the game.
The Rebels were up 51-49 but couldn’t carry their intensity into what was akin to the championship rounds. Kansas went on a 14-2 run sparked by defensive intensity and transition offense to pull away.
UNLV has put itself in a position where it could use every win, but this isn’t a loss the Rebels should take too hard. They put up a spirited battle and will have a chance to win every conference game if they make opponents as uncomfortable as they did to Kansas in the first 30 minutes.
“Obviously we’re not happy we lost, but dang if we didn’t battle,” said senior guard Cody Doolin, who led UNLV (9-5, 0-1) with 12 points and seven assists.
…“We were right there,” Rice said. “They didn’t out-effort us in the second half, they just out-executed us.”
The tradition is everywhere. They link arms and sing the alma mater before tipoff. They pack those red and blue bleachers shoulder to shoulder. They sway like a wheat field in the breeze.
And there is this: When an opposing basketball team gets near the cliff’s edge, Kansas is almost always good enough to push it over.
When things get away from you here, they get away fast.
Bill Self has coached the Jayhawks for 12 years. He has lost nine home games. Total.
UNLV is the latest side to learn this lesson, having ended the nonconference portion of its schedule Sunday with a 76-61 loss to the No. 13 Jayhawks before your typical raucous Allen Fieldhouse sellout of 16,300.
UNLV led 33-29 at halftime.
It was tied at 51 with 11 minutes remaining.
It was 63-53 Kansas six minutes later.
When you play well for 32 or so minutes here, you’re going to get “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk, K-U” all the way home.
Which, by the way, the faithful have been chanting since the 1800s.
“If you can come in here and play well, you can do so in almost any building,” Rebels point guard Cody Doolin said. “It was fun for us, even though we lost. It doesn’t get any better than this in college basketball. I think we will learn from this and it will help us in the long run.”
“They kind of develop an identity for yourself,” Self says.
…On Sunday afternoon, the 13th-ranked Jayhawks improved to 11-2 entering their Big 12 opener on Wednesday at Baylor. Kansas procured this nonconference record against the toughest nonconference schedule in the country — at least according to some metrics — and on this front, Self is very happy. In some ways, though, this season has been very hard. This team, Self will say, is unlike any Kansas team he has coached. They lack dominant big men. They don’t score easy baskets. They have twice lost games by more than 25 points.
“The reality is,” Self said, “I don’t think we played as well as our record was.”
So maybe this can’t be a perfect Kansas team. But on Sunday, the Jayhawks showed why they can still be a team that Self can love. In addition to the game-changing hustle play, Selden finished with 16 points while hitting four-three-pointers. Mason, meanwhile, looked like a vintage Self point guard, controlling the game with a line that featured 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 38 minutes.
“His line today was ridiculous again,” Self said.
Put it another way: Selden makes the kind of plays that Self loves, and Mason plays the kind of gritty point guard that Self relishes. Together, they helped Kansas outscore UNLV 47-28 in the second half and hold the Runnin’ Rebels to 34.5-percent shooting after the break. Kansas also dominated the boards, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and outrebounding UNLV 45-31.
“That was fun,” Selden said.
The question at the forefront of most minds heading into Sunday was how the Jayhawks would handle UNLV’s length. Eight of the 14 Runnin’ Rebels checked in at 6-feet-6 or above, ranking fifth nationally in blocked shots.
After the Rebels swatted away six in the first half and altered many others — holding Kansas to just 32.4 percent from the field — things didn’t look promising heading into the intermission.
But in a game in which No. 13 Kansas trailed by four at halftime, 33-29, an explosive second-half pushed Kansas (11-2) to victory, 76-61, on Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse. The surge was led by sophomore guard Frank Mason, the smallest player on the Kansas roster.
Captained by Mason at the point, who led the Jayhawks and all scorers with 18 points, also contributed 7 assists, 4 steals and just 2 turnovers as Kansas had its way against the Vegas high-flyers in the second half.
Just two of its 30 shot attempts in the second half were blocked, as compared to six of its 37 in the first half. Of those remaining 28 shots, Kansas made 18.
“We had opportunities,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I just told them to keep doing what they were doing; (to) stay active and play with energy and things will work out.”
…“I don’t know,” Selden said of how Mason can score at the rim at his size. “I’m trying to figure it out so I can do it.”
On Sunday, it was the shortest man on the Kansas roster who undercut a long UNLV team.
Goliath met his match, if you will.
Kansas wraps up the non-conference season with just two blemishes after having faced one of the toughest schedules in the country. Self says the out-of-league games will help Kansas gear up for the Big 12, but nothing gets easier. Not in the slightest.
Yea we know that chant ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK KU
1/4/15, 5:31 PM
Kansas fans stopping by rebel fans saying good game. Now that's good sportsmanship. #Lawrence #UNLVMBB