Late Mason Jumper Gives Classic Win

Late Mason Jumper Gives Classic Win

Late Mason Jumper Gives Classic Win

 

The Kansas Jayhawks earned their first win of the 2016-17 season with a 77-75 victory over the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York, and Frank Mason III played the hero.

Duke went on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes to tie the game at 75 after it appeared Kansas had done enough to earn the win, but Mason responded by drilling a step-back jumper in the waning seconds. The Blue Devils’ half-court heave was off, and the No. 7 Jayhawks celebrated a win over the No. 1 team in the nation. 

Duke vs. Kansas

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Duke vs. Kansas

NEW YORK—For most of the second half, it looked like Duke had no chance to come back against Kansas.

Then all of a sudden, Frank Jackson stepped in and brought his team back with a pair of clutch 3-pointers.

reaction_jackwhiteBy Jack White / The Chronicle
Sophomore Luke Kennard led Duke with 22 points but could only watch as Mason won it with his game-winner.

It still was not enough.

With the Blue Devils trailing by double digits for most of the second half, the freshman guard—who did not start and was scoreless with 10 minutes left to play—provided a spark to lead Duke back in the final minutes. Jackson hit a huge 3-pointer from the wing with 20 seconds remaining that tied the game at 75.

But with 1.2 seconds left, Kansas senior Frank Mason III hit a step-back jumper from just beyond the left elbow over the outstretched arm of senior Matt Jones to give the No. 7 Jayhawks a 77-75 victory against the top-ranked Blue Devils Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic.

“I just took advantage of the separation I created and just shot the ball. It felt good after it left my hand,” Mason III said. “The only thing I was a little worried about was my balance. I was a little off-balance.”

Jackson’s first clutch moment was a four-point play that cut the Kansas lead to within four with three minutes left to play and brought life to a Duke squad that looked lost for most of the second half.

jack_white_injured_freshmenBy Jack White / The Chronicle
Playing without freshmen stars Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, the Blue Devils struggled at times to defend aggressively without fouling.

A baseline jumper by forward Carlton Bragg, Jr. put the Jayhawks (1-1) back up six before Blue Devil sophomore Luke Kennard made a layup to close the gap to 72-68.

But Mason III came up big again for the Jayhawks—converting an and-one layup for three of his 21 points to stretch the lead back to seven. Kennard—who led Duke (2-1) with 22 points—once again fought through the lane for a bucket and cut the deficit to five with 1:36 left to play.

“It’s our third game, we haven’t really been behind,” Kennard said. “The last 10 minutes, we pulled it together a little bit and made some big stops and hit some great shots. Overall, we just need to put a complete game together.”

Blue Devil co-captains Amile Jefferson and Jones both picked up their fourth fouls early in the second half, which coincided with Kansas surging back to take the lead.

After being quiet for most of the first half, the Jayhawks’ two best offensive talents—freshman swingman Josh Jackson and Mason III—exploded for 17 points in nine minutes to spur a 23-7 run that put Duke in a 52-43 hole. Jackson and Mason III scored just four points apiece in the opening 20 minutes but poured in 28 in the second half, combining to make 15-of-22 field goals.

The Blue Devils had trouble regaining their composure after the run, and Kansas stretched its lead to 12 by the under-eight media timeout. The Jayhawk offense—which scored 99 points in their overtime loss to Indiana—took advantage of a Duke defense that had to be wary of foul trouble, shooting better than 60 percent from the field in the second half.

“I called a timeout after two minutes because we made three really bad defensive mistakes that were easy,” Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We just weren’t very good for about 10 minutes. We called a couple timeouts. Our faces weren’t good and then all of a sudden, boom—we were good, and then we were really good. Not enough.”

Each of the Blue Devils’ four guards—Kennard, Jackson, Jones and Grayson Allen—averaged double-digit points in the opening wo games, but the Duke perimeter attack really struggled against the Jayhawks’ two All-Big 12 Defensive Team guards in Mason III and junior Devonte’ Graham.

Despite an injury scare late in the first half, Allen returned to start the second half but was largely ineffective— he finished with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting for a second straight subpar performance in the Champions Classic after making just 2-of-11 shots for six points against Kentucky last season.

Kennard and Jackson stepped up to carry the offense as the veteran Allen was struggling, but with three major weapons still sidelined indefinitely, the Blue Devils will need their preseason All-American to come through with consistent scoring going forward.

There is still no timetable for freshmen Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles to return from lower-leg injuries that have kept them out so far this season.

“He’s going to the point where he makes a move, and it’s a good move, and he’s expecting a foul. I’m not saying they’re not calling fouls—you can’t do that. That can’t be what you’re doing,” Krzyzewski said of Allen. “In the last few minutes, he moved well. He’s playing hard when he gets the ball and he needs to play harder when he doesn’t have the ball—which is what he did in the last few minutes—because people are loaded up for you.”

Duke will now have three days off before traveling back north for the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Conn. The Blue Devils will face Penn State Saturday at 12:30 p.m. before tackling either Cincinnati or No. 21 Rhode Island at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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