Kansas Beats Michigan

By Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange

TULSA, Okla. — Kansas made it through the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and picked up a head of steam in the process.
The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, the Jayhawks gained an edge late in the first half against ninth-seeded Michigan State and raced past the Spartans late on the way to a 90-70 victory on Sunday at the BOK Center.
The Jayhawks (30-4) had plenty of support from their fans in Tulsa, and now they will move even closer to home as they advance to play fourth-seeded Purdue in a regional semifinal on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
Guard Josh Jackson led Kansas with 23 points. Guard Frank Mason III added 20 points and five assists, and guard Devonte’ Graham had 18 points and four assists.
“I think all three of these guys played great,” coach Bill Self said in the postgame press conference with Jackson, Mason and Graham sitting to his right. “They shot it fairly well, but they competed, they defended and they cared about the right things. They certainly played unselfish and still got numbers.”
Graham hit a 3-pointer that put the Jayhawks ahead by 15 points and in control with 2:49 remaining in the second half.
Kansas finished the game on a 19-5 run in the final 6:43.
“The last eight, 10 minutes, they were really good and I thought that was the difference,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “They just took over.”
Guard Miles Bridges led Michigan State with 22 points, and forward Nick Ward added 13.
Ward picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 8:38 left. He had scored 13 points in 16 minutes to that point. Ward played four minutes the rest of the way.
Kansas forward Dwight Coleby made one of two free throws after Ward’s fourth foul. Guard Lagerald Vick scored on a layup off a down-the-lane pass from Graham to put the Jayhawks ahead by 10 with 8:07 remaining.
Coleby, who averaged five minutes and 1.7 points entering the game, played effectively after starter Landen Lucas got in foul trouble. Coleby had three points and four rebounds in nine minutes of action.
“(Coleby) gave us the spark we needed,” Mason said. “Landen got in foul trouble and he came in prepared and ready to play. We’re going to need that moving forward because you never know who’s going to get in foul trouble or an injury or anything like that.”
Michigan State finished with a 20-15 record, but Izzo said his team, which started three freshmen, gained valuable experience.
“What excites me is getting good enough to compete in these kinds of games,” Izzo said. “I think we learned a little bit in the last 10 minutes that we have some work to do in that respect.”
The teams swapped the lead 11 times through the first 15 minutes as they wrestled for control.
The Jayhawks seized the first modicum of momentum with a 6-0 mini-run when guards Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Mason each hit jumpers and Graham made a fast-break layup on an assist from Mykhailiuk.
After Michigan State called a timeout, Jackson responded by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the arc that put the Jayhawks ahead 36-27 with 3:04 left before halftime.
Graham returned the favor by tossing an alley-oop lob that Mykhailiuk threw down to finish a fast break and cap Kansas’ 13-2 run.
Mykailiuk’s dunk gave the Jayhawks a 40-29 lead with 1:42 left before halftime. But Michigan State scored the last six points before the break on a Joshua Langford 3-pointer and three free throws by Bridges.
Bridges scored 13 points to lead the Spartans in the first half.
Jackson, Mason and Mykhailiuk each had nine points as the Jayhawks led 40-35 at the break.

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