Kansas senior center Landen Lucas said the Jayhawks were up to the challenge presented by a Michigan State team associated with its blue collar approach to basketball, under hall of fame coach Tom Izzo.
“We work hard, too,” Lucas said. “We get on the glass, and we like to be physical, too. I don’t think any team is gonna out-work us and that’s something that starts with me doing the small things and dirty work inside. I just try to come out and set the tone and I think we, as a team, did a pretty good job doing exactly what their game plan probably was to do to us, and that’s just get after it and do the little things, do the dirty work and do it well.”
The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 by defeating Michigan State, 90-70, at BOK Center, in Tulsa, Okla., a heated NCAA Tournament contest which came with some trash talk from the Spartans.
Tulsa, Okla. — Michigan State star freshman Miles Bridges hoped he and Kansas standout Josh Jackson would play together this season at MSU.
Before their two teams battle Sunday at BOK Center for a spot in the Sweet 16, Bridges spoke about his relationship with his longtime buddy, Jackson, and previewed their NCAA Tournament matchup.
“It’s fun,” Bridges said of running into Jackson on this stage, “because we know each other’s games, we know how competitive we are and whoever wins gets to talk stuff at the end.”
What if Bridges and Jackson had teamed up?
“I kind of thought about that once I got on campus,” Bridges said, “but once we started playing games I didn’t think about that.”
Tulsa, Okla. — Kansas coach Bill Self and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo have known each other for years, dating back to Self’s time in the Big Ten at Illinois.
Ahead of the Jayhawks’ Sunday NCAA Tournament meeting with Izzo’s Spartans, Self says they’ve remained in touch and often converse over topics that frustrate them in the business.
“Certainly he’s been guy whose been a great role model and a great influence on me,” Self says. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to coach against him.”
Self expects both teams will try to push the ball as they try to advance to the Sweet 16.
Kansas junior forward Landen Lucas says the Jayhawks can feel the competition for playing time during the preseason, and that the fifth spot in KU’s starting lineup is up for grabs.
From a personal standpoint, the 6-foot-10 Lucas thinks he can prove he’s worth playing by hitting the glass.
While Lucas spoke with the media, KU’s upcoming trip to Chicago for the Champions Classic came up, and the junior said the Jayhawks remember well how poorly their last appearance in the made-for-TV event — against Kentucky — went a year ago. Obviously, Kansas has no interest in duplicating that poor showing.