Kansas City, Mo. The top seed in the Midwest is one victory away from the biggest stage in college basketball. Kansas put on a Sweet 16 show Thursday night at Sprint Center, flying by Purdue for a 98-66 victory.
The man who helped KU thrive all season, earning KU the right to play in the program’s home away from home in K.C., senior Frank Mason III turned in a nearly flawless performance, flirting with a triple-double. The senior point guard’s 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists made it easy for the Jayhawks (31-4) to dominate the second half and pound the Big Ten’s champion, Purdue (27-8).
With Mason making the game simpler for everyone in a white uniform, four other Kansas players joined him in double figures, led by his longtime backcourt mate, Devonte’ Graham, who drilled five 3-pointers en route to 26 points.
Freshman star Josh Jackson delivered a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds). Svi Mykhailiuk finished with 10 points. Sixth man Lagerald Vick, a spark for Kansas in both halves, put up 12 off the bench.
View a gallery of images from the Jayhawks' Sweet Sixteen game against the Boilermakers on Thursday at Sprint Center.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Vick set Sprint Center ablaze with a 360-degree, two-handed slam in the open floor in the second half.
The Jayhawks already led by seven when Vick felt confident enough to give his insane, spinning jam a shot — knowing a miss would land him directly in coach Bill Self’s dog house.
When Vick finished off the spectacular slam that will live on in tournament clips for years, his teammates and the crowd ate it up. It came smack in the middle of an 11-0 Kansas run, the Jayhawks soon expanded the lead to the 20-point range and Purdue never recovered.
• Offensive highlight: Technically, Vick’s aforementioned jam stole the show, but because it came at such a critical juncture, the sophomore’s second-best play of the night becomes the de facto highlight champ.
Just before halftime, Vick went behind the back after a steal (aided by an official on the sideline, who had the ball bounce off of him and back to the Jayhawks’ sophomore guard) to ignite a three-on-one fast break.
Vick threw a quick pass to Graham near the top of the key, then got it right back above the rim for a fantastic alley-oop that gave KU a 47-40 advantage.
• Defensive highlight: The Jayhawks stepped onto the floor in front of a pro-KU crowd determined to keep Purdue star big man Caleb Swanigan from having his way in the paint.
The all-American candidate known as Biggie shot just 3-for-7 inside the arc and only grabbed seven boards on the night after posting 28 double-doubles this season.
• Key stat: Points in the paint. After much was made of Purdue’s size, with Swanigan and Isaac Haas, KU out-performed the Boilermakers inside.
The Jayhawks, known for their four-guard lineup, won points in the paint, 34-22, versus Purdue, known for its front line.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will be back at Sprint Center Saturday at 7:49 p.m. to face Oregon with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.