KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Frank Mason III had 19 points, Josh Jackson added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and fifth-ranked Kansas turned to its zone defense to beat Georgia 65-54 on Tuesday night in the CBE Classic championship game.
Devonte Graham added 14 points for the Jayhawks (4-1), who won their third consecutive in-season tournament title and second CBE Classic. They also won the tournament in 2012.
The Jayhawks hope it’s the beginning of a sweet ride at the Sprint Center this season. They play Davidson in the same building in a couple of weeks, have the Big 12 Tournament there in March, and then hope to land in the NCAA Tournament regional finals with a Final Four spot on the line.
Yante Maten had 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (3-2), but they were done in by 3-for-18 shooting from the perimeter, equally lousy foul shooting and turnovers that led to easy runouts.
J.J. Frazier, who had been averaging 19 points per game, was held to two on 1-for-10 shooting.
The game was strange from the outset as two coaches who disdain zones, the Jayhawks’ Bill Self and the Bulldogs’ Mark Fox, slapped them on when foul trouble robbed them of several starters.
It also slowed the game down and turned it into a shooting contest.
Kansas was a bit more efficient from the perimeter, slowly drawing away after trailing 20-19 with about 8 minutes to go, to forge a 35-25 lead at the break. The Bulldogs only made one of their final 16 field goal attempts, and their only scoring in the final 5 minutes came at the foul line.
The lead was still just 42-34 with 16 minutes to go when Mason drove for a basket, the first of eight straight points for the Jayhawks. Mason added another basket, Jackson solved the Bulldogs’ zone for a dunk and Graham and Dwight Coleby finished it off to give Kansas a comfortable cushion.
Georgia went more than 7 minutes without scoring as the game got away.
Georgia earned a split in the CBE Classic, and losing to Kansas doesn’t hurt its NCAA Tournament resume. The Bulldogs showed in their win over George Washington that they can be competitive.
Kansas has already proven it can score this season. On Tuesday night, the Jayhawks proved they can play a little defense, too, even if it meant ditching Self’s preferred man-to-man.
Georgia begins a five-game homestand against Gardner-Webb on Friday night.
Kansas plays UNC-Asheville on Friday night in its second game at Allen Fieldhouse this season.