Men's basketball vs. K-State

Senior guard Frank Mason III smiles walking off the court in the final seconds against Kansas State on Feb. 6. Kansas won, 74-71.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Frank Mason III knew the atmosphere at Kansas State was going to be rowdy.

As the senior guard took the court at Bramlage Coliseum to warm up for his fourth and final time in the venue, he motioned for the K-State student section to get louder.

“I just wanted more energy,” Mason said. “I was just trying to get the crowd into it even more and make the game more fun.”

The K-State student section may have chanted “F—k KU” seven times during the course of the game, but Mason wasn’t deterred. It only fueled his fire.

Mason pursed his lips to shush them after several made Kansas baskets and at the end of the game, a K-State fan yelled “overrated” toward the Jayhawk bench to which Mason replied by pointing up toward the final score of 74-71, saying “scoreboard.”

“I’ll be honest. The crowd helped us win the game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “There’s no doubt about that. That’s all we talked about was ‘use their energy to give you energy.’ And we talked about different scenarios and how it was gonna help us. I think it did. I think their crowd energized our guys. I think they really enjoyed playing here today.”

But Mason didn’t need them. He injected life into the game on his own accord.

With one minute remaining on a K-State possession, Mason flew into over a table en route to a loose ball, landing on a row of folding chairs. Disappearing from the camera’s sight, Mason took a few seconds to collect himself before re-emerging on the court. He darted down the baseline and intercepted a pass for his second steal of the night.

“I think those plays define seasons,” Self said of hustle plays. “I think there’s always something that happens in a season that would be a defining moment. I don’t know if that’s it at all, I’m not saying that. It’s always an extra possession hustle play that means the most to your team.”

Mason said after the game that he scuffed up his elbow a little bit on the play, but it wasn’t anything to worry about.

“I have never met a guy as small as him and as tough as him,” freshman guard Josh Jackson said of Mason. “The plays he makes like that really tend to rub off on all of us. We see him make a play like that and it really steps everybody’s defensive intensity.”

Mason recorded a team-high 21 points and added three assists and two steals in the win, helping make his case for National Player of the Year.

“He’s just so poised, K-State coach Bruce Weber said of Mason. “He makes big plays, big shots. I thought Barry [Brown] made him earn a lot of it. He almost plays the whole game and he’s a good player. He’s gotta be in consideration for player of the year in our league and player of the year in the country. I don’t think there’s any doubt.”