Kansas City, Mo. — Leading up to a Sweet 16 meeting with Big Ten champion Purdue, much was made of the Boilermakers’ bulk and height in the frontcourt and how Kansas would be able to handle it.
After the Jayhawks destroyed Purdue, in part by out-scoring their opponent 34-22 in the paint, KU freshman guard Josh Jackson, who also spent some time covering the Boilermakers’ bigs, said his team found satisfaction in its interior play.
“We came out with a game plan. We knew exactly what we had to do to stop them down there and we did a good job of executing tonight,” Jackson said. “We did a good job of keeping their bigs away from the basket and we did a good job of just not giving up free points. I would rather have Landen (Lucas) or Dwight (Coleby) foul a guy down there, rather than just giving up free points.”
Kansas City, Mo. — After blowing away his teammates, the Sprint Center crowd and the NCAA Tournament-loving public with his open-court finish against Purdue Thursday night, Kansas sophomore guard Lagerald Vick described how he pulled off a 360-degree slam dunk that highlighted the Jayhawks’ 98-66 thumping of the Boilermakers.
Vick essentially called his slam hours in advance, telling teammate Carlton Bragg Jr. in the locker room beforehand he wanted to try it.
“It was kind of a before-the-game thing,” Vick said. “I talked to my teammate about it. And I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, timed it up well. And I had the open court, so I had to get the crowd involved.”
Kansas City, Mo. — It’s not always the star players who make the difference in winning or losing during the NCAA Tournament.
Standout Kansas freshman Josh Jackson says the Jayhawks could use someone stepping up as an X-factor against Purdue in the Sweet 16, and he has someone in mind.
“Carlton is one of those X-factor guys that we look at,” Jackson said of Bragg, a sophomore backup forward. “We all feel like any time that Carlton has a good game, we’re gonna win the game — no matter what. I feel like he’s gonna have a pretty good game (against Purdue). He’s feeling a lot more confident.”
Kansas City, Mo. — As the Kansas basketball team prepares for a Sweet 16 meeting with Purdue at Sprint Center, junior Dwight Coleby said all of the Jayhawks’ post players have to constantly be aware of talented Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan.
“He’s a big guy that can score in the post and step out and hit the three, trailer threes,” Coleby said. “You’ve just got to be aware of all the things that he can do. He’s a great passer.”
Swanigan has proven to be effective at finding open 3-point shooters when opponents double-team him.
“We just have to adjust as the game goes on, on what we can do,” Coleby said.
Kansas City, Mo. — The Midwest’s No. 1 seed, Kansas, already has won 30 games and advanced to the Sweet 16, but senior point guard Frank Mason III says there are areas where the Jayhawks still can improve, as they prepare to face Purdue in a regional semifinal Thursday at Sprint Center.
“I think we can rebound better, we can shoot free throws better,” Mason began, “we can pay attention a little bit better to scouting report and personnel, and I think we can be a lot better on the defensive end, too.”
One area where KU has thrived most of the season is 3-point shooting. Kansas enters the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend having made 40.6 percent from beyond the arc, led by Mason’s 47.6-percent accuracy.
“It’s meant a lot, because we’ve been playing with four guards all year,” Mason said. “It just shows you that we can drive the ball downhill and create for each other, and we’ve been consistently knocking down threes, and I think it’s just good for our team.”
After an uneventful bus trip from Lawrence to Kansas City, Mo., where his Jayhawks are staying this week, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self told reporters now that top-seeded KU has reached the Sweet 16 the NCAA Tournament feels even more exciting.
“I always think there’s always pressure the first weekend to get to the second weekend,” Self said Tuesday afternoon at the team’s hotel, two days ahead of the Jayhawks’ matchup with Purdue. “… The tension is highlighted and certainly the experience, I think, is heightened the second weekend. So we’re excited. The guys are in a good frame of mind.”
The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, the Kansas basketball team didn’t have to travel far for the Sweet 16.
Less than an hour after leaving Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Tuesday afternoon, the Jayhawks and head coach Bill Self arrived at their hotel in Kansas City, Mo., where they’re staying this week, ahead of their Thursday night showdown with Purdue, at Sprint Center.
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. — A happy Dwight Coleby said following his key contributions in the Kansas Jayhawks’ 90-70 victory over Michigan State he was fully prepared to make an impact off the bench.
“It’s the brightest stage and I want to play,” Coleby said, when asked how he stays mentally focused while never being sure what will be asked of him, “so I’m just ready the whole time.”
Coleby’s efforts helped land KU in the Sweet 16.
“I just watch Landen, and everything he does and how he defends,” Coleby shared. “Whatever he does, I just try to pick up on it and ask him questions.”
Tulsa, Okla. — After Kansas moved on to the Sweet 16 by beating Michigan State, 90-70, at BOK Center Sunday night, junior Devonte’ Graham said the Jayhawks were difficult to stop because he, Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson were all producing.
“It’s hard to focus in on all of us at one time, because we all can do so much, and make plays off the dribble, we can shoot it, Josh can play inside-out,” Graham said. “And then Landen (Lucas) down low and then you get Dwight (Coleby) coming off playing like that, so it’s definitely hard to guard.”
Graham also said the Jayhawks (30-4) hope to use their recent loss in Kansas City, Mo., at Sprint Center this week as a reminder and motivator before they face Purdue on Thursday night.