Sunday, March 19, 2017

Marching on: Jayhawks handle MSU, advance to Sweet 16

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) extends to the bucket past Michigan State forward Nick Ward (44) during the first half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) extends to the bucket past Michigan State forward Nick Ward (44) during the first half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.


— Kansas City, here they come. The Midwest’s No. 1 seed, the Kansas Jayhawks, took care of business Sunday at BOK Center, running away from Michigan State late in a 90-70 victory, that sends KU to Sprint Center for a Sweet 16 matchup with Purdue.

Kansas (30-4) destroyed the Spartans in the second half, out-scoring MSU 50-35 and shooting 56.3-percent from the floor.

Freshman sensation Josh Jackson, going against his home state’s marquee program, scored 14 of his game-high 23 points after halftime.

Senior point guard Frank Mason III, though he shot just 6 for 16, scored 20 points and dished five assists.

Junior Devonte’ Graham, behind the power of four 3-pointers, added 18.

Senior center Landen Lucas produced his second consecutive double-double, with 10 points and 11 boards.

It marked the eighth time a Bill Self-coached KU team reached 30 victories in a season and assured Kansas of the program’s 30th trip to the Sweet 16.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: The Jayhawks’ superior talent finally won out.

MSU cut KU’s lead to one with more than 12 minutes to play, but the veteran Jayhawks took their production to another level versus the younger Spartans once they felt challenged.

Led by Jackson drives and jumpers and some unexpected sparks from backup big Dwight Coleby, Kansas quickly built its lead back to double digits and the No. 1 seed’s stellar backcourt of Mason, Jackson and Graham proved too much for Michigan State to handle.

• Offensive highlight: Typically sky-walking slams dominate this category, and although KU did come through on that front (more on that shortly), we’ll keep it old school for this battle between Big 12 and Big 10 powers.

Shortly after his old friend from Michigan, Miles Bridges (22 points, eight rebounds), returned to the floor following an injury scare, Jackson went right at his fellow freshman.

The 6-8 Jackson caught the ball on the right baseline with his back to the basket, and the 6-7 Bridges behind him. What followed was a play reminiscent of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, if not directly inspired by them. Jackson took two hard dribbles toward the paint before spinning back toward the baseline for a fade-away jumper off the glass — as pretty a bucket as you will see this weekend, with apologies to Lagerald Vick and his monster, two-handed finish of a Graham alley-oop pass.

• Defensive highlight: Don’t the best defensive plays usually lead to offense?

Mason’s steal late in the first half could’ve stood alone on its own merit. Cassius Winston tried to drive it straight at Mason from the top of the key, but Mason cut him off in the paint and stripped the ball away.

The thing that made the swipe extraordinary was Mason’s wherewithal in the situation, as the takeaway turned into an outlet pass in one smooth motion. The senior Naismith Trophy finalist heaved the freshly-stolen ball ahead, leaving air under it so Graham could catch up with the outlet.

The head’s up play fueled a two-on-one fast break for Kansas, and Graham lobbed a pass for Svi Mykhailiuk (nine points, three assists) for a two-handed slam, giving the Jayhawks their biggest lead of the first half, at 40-29.

Points off turnovers can swing tight games in March and the sequence ignited a pro-Kansas crowd in Tulsa.

• Key stat: Seven turnovers. Kansas mistakes didn’t kill the favored team on a potentially stressful stage. MSU mostly struggled this season, and the Spartans didn’t get many chances to feel good about themselves with easy looks off turnovers.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will return to their home away from home, Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Mo., for a Sweet 16 showdown with another Big Ten foe, Purdue, on Thursday.

By the Numbers: Kansas 90, Michigan State 70.

By the Numbers: Kansas 90, Michigan State 70.

— See what people were saying about the game during's live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Michigan State


Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 2 months ago

Start counting BIFM's victims: 3 vs MSU - hip injury, head injury, cross-over ankle breaking injury!!!! Let's hope KU can take care of business the rest of the tourney. Keep on rocking, Hawks!!

Mo Golany 3 years, 2 months ago

Why isn't kusports posting the press conferences as usual?????

Bryce Landon 3 years, 2 months ago

I watched the first half, but had to miss the second half as I had a commitment at 6 pm I couldn't get out of (and wasn't going to feign illness to get out of). So I was relieved to see the final score as a 20-point Kansas victory!

And there's a certain Wilbert Harrison song playing in my head... :)

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

Bryce, always glad to help you out. Here is a brief update on how Kansas played in the 2nd half:


Bryce Landon 3 years, 2 months ago

LOL, Marius! XD

I did go to YouTube later and watch some highlights from the second half, so I have a fairly good idea what happened.

Craig Alexander 3 years, 2 months ago

Now we have a few days to prepare for Swanigan to get him in foul trouble early. Self and Mason will lead us to the Elite eight! Let's go!

David Pointer 3 years, 2 months ago

I hope you're right. All that size that Purdue has really worries me, but I have always heard that guards win in March and there is no doubt we have better guards than maybe every other team.

Craig Alexander 3 years, 2 months ago

Just watch the part of the Iowa State game where they almost came back for the win. They played Swanigan straight up, then he backed into them to create space, and then as he turned to the basket Iowa St backed up and swiped at the ball. They were keeping him at bay during that stretch. I think Lucas and Coleby will be able to handle him. The 7-foot bench guy could cause a little issues but he isn't nearly as skilled. The game plan will be there and our guards will swipe that ball.

Chad Smith 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm gonna be quite honest here, the refs let MSU back in the game and that is disappointing to me. Phantom fouls down low and the ridiculous tech on Vick, after what, 2 seconds of trash talk on an energy filled alley-oop? Cut the Crap. I'm glad we pushed through that, sign of a mature squad. Jackson was hyped up all game, thankfully he calmed down and channeled in and became almost unstoppable.

Normally I would be a little bit more weary of a good Purdue squad. But at Sprint Center with our veteran leadership, The Final Four is very well within reach. Need to stay locked in. We have a clear and winnable road ahead of us, let's focus and keep going!


Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 2 months ago

I got the same feeling about the refs - I thought that was going to stop our run, but boooy, we kept on fighting and fighting. This team has come alive at the right time. Let's keep on Marching!!

Tom Jones 3 years, 2 months ago

They've been "alive" all year. They won a very tough league by four games.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 2 months ago

I guess you're right. Those slim margin looked worse on records, but I completely forgot we're in B12!!!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

As bad as they were against Kansas, they completely destroyed St. Mary's and Northwestern's chances for an upset.

I can't remember seeing so many bad calls in one tournament much less, the first 2 rounds. Fortunately for Kansas, the bad calls didn't do much harm.

Gary Amble 3 years, 2 months ago

KU beat Duke, UK & MSU all away from AFH in the same season. A clean sweep of all the members of the Champions Classic. Is this the first time that has happened?

Bryce Landon 3 years, 2 months ago

I think you're right. And there remains a chance that we could face UK in the Final Four or Duke in the title game. We'll see.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually, never mind on that possible title game rematch. Duke choked on some (insert last four letters of South Carolina's mascot). :)

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

Duke is done but that still leaves UCLA and North Carolina.

BUT let's keep our minds Purdue. Win and move on.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 2 months ago

That technical foul on Vick was ridiculous. Even the announcers said you don't call that in the dance. I call BS on that stuff.

Bob Zielinski 3 years, 2 months ago

I thought Colby looked great again and shows he can be a 10 minute per game player who makes plays. Lucas had about three low post hook shots early that were no doubters and his overall game was so strong. The great thing about getting past Izzo is KU can bring back more in bound plays for points (has there been a better team in recent memory inbounding the ball on set up lays for points?). This team has what it takes to win it all. Plus, Purdue got a taste of what it takes to beat Iowa State. They might be overwhelmed by what KU brings on both ends.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 2 months ago

agree, Lucas is really developing a nice soft hook down low. So impressed with him. Colby looking good too. Bragg, man, he just needs to start over next year. Tough year for him.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 2 months ago

9 very important minutes...way to go Dwight Coleby.

Doug Clark 3 years, 2 months ago

So glad he went to Coleby, it is just painful to watch Bragg struggle so much, he misses point blank layups, can't catch the ball clean, doesn't rebound well, and is out of position on defense and gets dominated on defense which causes him to foul way too much, I hope he comes back next year and decides to dedicate himself to being a better Jayhawk, I don't think he was focused on basketball earlier this year and he was never able to get out of the hole that he put himself in, this was basically a wasted year for him and that's a sad deal.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 2 months ago

Didn't he have to deal with some kind of knee surgery or something?

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

You got it Steve. Coleby suffered a fairly severe knee injury and wasn't able to practice at all his first year and didn't really get going until late in conference play.

Expect bigger things from Coleby next year.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 2 months ago

The only caveat re: the Vick call is that we don't really know if Vick said something or glared at the MSU player. Nevertheless, it seemed pretty ticky tack.

Jonathan Allison 3 years, 2 months ago

from the video replay it definitely looked like he had a few words for the MSU player, but I still am surprised that they whistled him for taunting. It seemed rather insignificant on TV, of course we don't know what he said, and it may have been that the ref just happened to be close enough to the action to hear the words, otherwise it would likely have been a no-call.

I'm also a little surprised they called that Offensive Basket Interference against Jackson on that Mason floater. Jackson did touch the rim while the ball was above the cylinder, so it was the right call even though it didn't appear to have any impact on the basket by Mason, but it seemed like a play that usually goes uncalled. Ironically, there was a play a little while later where Jackson made incidental contact with the rim during a made basket and nothing was called.

Tom Jones 3 years, 2 months ago

Saw the second play you're referencing and was also surprised at the no-call, but they did (eventually) show the angle on the first one and it was, in fact, the correct call. Just impossible to see from the other angles.

Regarding Vick, don't give the ref a chance, son. Scream all you want, just don't stare someone down while doing so.

Matt Kenton 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to the "baseline view" video, I have a pretty good idea what Vick said. Not totally surprised he got the T.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 2 months ago

Good observations, Jonathan. Of course, the best example of a missed call was in the Northwestern/Gonzaga game when the Gonzaga player had his whole arm up through the net and they didn't call it. In return, Chris Collins vehemently protested and was given a technical. The NCAA later apologized for the missed call, but the damage was done.

I believe that a "sideline" official should be there who has the discretion to call for a replay outside of the last 2 minutes of the game. A replay challenge on the above play would only have taken 2 seconds to confirm what happened.

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