Frank Mason III is thriving as Kansas’ primary scoring option, and the senior guard looks to record his fifth 20-point performance of the campaign when the No. 5 Jayhawks host Long Beach State on Tuesday. Mason reached 20 points just four times in 109 contests over his first three seasons but is averaging 21.5 on 54.9 percent shooting while helping Kansas win five of its first six games.
The 5-11 Mason has led Kansas in scoring five times thus far and connected on all five of his 3-point attempts while scoring 21 points in Friday’s 95-57 rout of UNC Asheville. The five 3-pointers matched Mason’s career best, and he is 12-of-25 from beyond the arc while shooting the ball with authority. “Sometimes when teams play zone, it kind of messes with Frank a little bit,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the victory. “I didn’t think he was very engaged early, but when he saw the ball go in the hole, he was a little more engaged.” The 49ers traditionally play a tough non-conference slate but have been overmatched while dropping seven straight contests as part of a stretch of nine consecutive games on the road or neutral courts.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Jayhawk TV, ESPN3
ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE (1-7): The 49ers lost consecutive games at Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA and Washington to begin their trip, and their lone win of the season was in the opener against Division II Cal State Los Angeles. Gabe Levin is the most productive player with team-leading averages of 13 points and 7.6 rebounds, while Evan Payne (11.5 points) is also scoring in double digits. Justin Bibbins averaged 12 points and five assists last season but is at 8.3 and 3.9 thus far in 2016-17 while shooting just 27.9 percent.
ABOUT KANSAS (5-1): Freshman guard Josh Jackson is settling in as the marquee player as which he was billed, averaging 14.3 points and 5.8 rebounds while delivering some dazzling passes en route to 3.2 assists per game. “He is a terrific passer,” Self said. “He probably has the best vision on our team. He maybe doesn’t always make the perfect pass, but he sees it. He’s getting more and more comfortable all of the time.” Devonte’ Graham shared the ball well against Asheville, recording a career-high 11 assists to raise his team-leading average to 5.7.
1. Kansas won three of the previous four meetings, with Long Beach State’s lone win being a stunning 64-49 upset of the top-ranked Jayhawks on Jan. 25, 1993.
2. The 49ers lost to the quartet of Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville and UCLA by an average of 33 points.
3. The Jayhawks own the nation’s longest home winning streak at 44 games.
PREDICTION: Kansas 93, Long Beach State 58