University of Kansas

Kansas routs Michigan State, earns Sweet 16 trip to Sprint Center

KU coach Bill Self after Michigan State win: 'Nobody listened to me'

Kansas coach Bill Self said coaching his team past Michigan State was a difficult during a press conference following the Jayhawks' 90-70 victory over the Spartans on Sunday, March 19, 2017, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
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Kansas coach Bill Self said coaching his team past Michigan State was a difficult during a press conference following the Jayhawks' 90-70 victory over the Spartans on Sunday, March 19, 2017, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

No. 1-seeded Kansas is headed to its home-away-from-home just two victories shy of its first Final Four berth since 2012 and third in the 14-year Bill Self era.

“I’m excited. Why wouldn’t we be excited to play in our hometown, in our home state, in front of the best fans in the world?” KU junior guard Devonté Graham said after scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the Jayhawks’ 90-70 second-round NCAA Tournament Midwest Region win over ninth-seeded Michigan State on Sunday at BOK Center.

“”I’m excited to get back and redeem myself in the Sprint Center, I guess you could say,” Graham added.

The Jayhawks’ victory over Michigan State (20-15) assured KU (30-4) a spot in Thursday’s Sweet 16 contest against fourth-seeded Purdue at the Sprint Center, where KU was bounced by TCU 85-82 in a first-round Big 12 tournament quarterfinal game on March 9. A win Thursday would mean a spot in Saturday’s Elite Eight, also at the Sprint Center.

“We get a chance to play 35 miles from Lawrence and I think it’s just great for the fans and for us to get a chance to play there for the Sweet 16. So we’re all excited,” said senior guard Frank Mason.

Mason had 20 points — 8 of 8 from the line — and five assists against no turnovers on a night freshman guard Josh Jackson led all scorers with 23 points.

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Detroit native Jackson, who grew up a fan of Michigan State, was one point better than one of his best friends, Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, who had 22 points and eight rebounds.

KU’s bigs also were a factor in winning the game that sends the Jayhawks to what reserve forward Carlton Bragg called his “second favorite arena.”

Senior Landen Lucas scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards, while junior Dwight Coleby contributed three points with four rebounds and a steal in 9 crucial second-half minutes.

Coleby’s inside bucket off a rebound came in a 13-4 second-half run that increased a narrow 54-53 lead at 12:14 to 67-57 with 8:06 to play.

The Jayhawks closed the game on a 36-17 run.

“It feels great, just one step closer to reaching our goal,” junior forward Coleby said of heading to the Sprint Center. “The home-court advantage should help (with) everybody cheering for us. We have to feed off their energy.”

Lucas, who personally thanked Coleby for keeping alive his senior season and his collegiate career, had nine points and four rebounds in the first half as KU led 40-35 at the break. The Spartans closed the half on a 6-0 run, putting a dent into the Jayhawks’ comfy 11-point margin.

“This is what we wanted, so we are finally heading back home,” Lucas said of the Sprint Center. “This crowd was great (at BOK Center). I mean it was mainly Jayhawk fans, but we know the Sprint Center is going to be rocking for us.”

Self said a strong desire to play in Sprint Center might have affected the Jayhawks negatively early on in Sunday’s game.

“I felt like our guys played loose for the most part, just too excited (in trailing 22-21 with 7:11 left in the half),” Self said. “There was some pressure. You work your butt off all year long so you can hopefully play a regional in Kansas City. You’ve got to do the things to get there. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have an advantage or anything like that. You’d think it would be a nice reward to having a good season.

“I think our guys played a little tight because of that and Josh and Michigan State having recruited him so hard. He knows all those guys. I think he was a little bit too juiced early himself,” Self added of the 6-8 Jackson, who had nine points on 4-of-9 shooting the first half.

Kansas freshman Josh Jackson, a Michigan native, spoke during a press conference following the Jayhawks' 90-70 victory over Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Sunday, March 19, 2017, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Jackson opened the pivotal 13-4 run with a bucket and foul shot and a three.

KU survived a mistake by Lagerald Vick, who slammed at 7:27 off a lob from Graham to give the Jayhawks a 69-59 lead. After the slam, he apparently barked as a Spartan player and was called for a technical. Cassius Winston hit two free throws and Matt McQuaid hit a three to cut KU’s lead to 69-64 at 7:11.

However, KU went on a 8-1 run to build the lead to at that time a game-high 12 points, 77-65, at 5:45. Lucas had a bucket to open that run and make it 71-64. Then, after a Bridges free throw, Mason scored, Jackson hit two free throws and Jackson scored another bucket. KU grabbed a 13-point lead at 4:41 on a three by Graham to make it 80-67.

“It was a hard game to coach in large part because nobody listened to me,” Self joked. “And they (Jayhawks) were shooting too fast and the pace was too fast and everything, but we’re better when we have pace. And certainly these guys have all been there before, but I think they’d be the first to tell you it was a fun game. It was a fast-paced game. The pace was faster than the final score indicated even in number of points.

“And they (Spartans) go downhill when they get possession as well as anybody. But we did a good enough job in transition defense, and then we did a great job defensive rebounding and to me having guys make hard shots. We extended our lead by step-back threes, and-ones. They were hard plays. Certainly that’s a tribute to the skill set over here.”

KU hit 53.1 percent of its shots (8 of 20 from three) for a sizzling 53.1 percent. Michigan State hit 43.9 percent of its shots (8 of 23 threes). The Jayhawks cashed 14 of 15 free throws; the Spartans hit 12 of 17. KU had just seven turnovers and 12 assists; Michigan State had 10 turnovers.

“It was a tough battle,” Lucas said. “It was good for us to get prepared moving forward.”

That’s moving forward … toward Kansas City.

KANSAS 90

MICHIGAN STATE 70

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Mich. State

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Bridges

34

7-15

6-9

8

2

1

22

Ward

20

5-9

3-4

4

0

4

13

Ellis

17

1-6

0-0

1

1

2

2

Langford

32

4-9

0-0

3

0

1

10

Nairn

14

0-2

0-0

2

1

1

0

McQuaid

31

3-8

0-0

2

1

2

9

Winston

26

2-4

2-2

0

8

1

7

Goins

20

2-3

1-2

4

0

1

5

Ahrens

5

1-1

0-0

0

0

1

2

Van Dyk

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

25-57

12-17

24

13

14

70

Percentages: FG .439, FT .706. Three-Point Goals: 8-23, .348 (McQuaid 3-7, Langford 2-5, Bridges 2-6, Winston 1-2, Ellis 0-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 1 (Ward). Turnovers: 10 (Winston 3, Ellis 2, McQuaid 2, Bridges, Nairn, Ward). Steals: 3 (Bridges, Ellis, Goins). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Lucas

25

5-7

0-0

11

0

4

10

Graham

34

7-10

0-0

4

4

0

18

Jackson

36

9-16

3-3

3

0

3

23

Mason

36

6-16

8-8

2

5

2

20

Mykhailiuk

26

3-5

2-2

4

3

1

9

Vick

25

3-7

0-0

5

0

2

7

Coleby

9

1-1

1-2

4

0

1

3

Bragg

5

0-2

0-0

1

0

3

0

Vang

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Lightfoot

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Self

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Young

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

34-64

14-15

34

12

16

90

Percentages: FG .531, FT .933. Three-Point Goals: 8-20, .400 (Graham 4-6, Jackson 2-5, Vick 1-2, Mykhailiuk 1-3, Mason 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 3 (Jackson 2, Lucas). Turnovers: 6 (Graham 2, Lucas 2, Jackson, Vick). Steals: 9 (Graham 3, Jackson 2, Mason 2, Coleby, Mykhailiuk). Technical Fouls: Vick, 7:27 second. Fouled Out: None.

Half: Kansas 40-35.

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