The “Tom Izzo is amazing in March” narrative is dying a slow, painful death following Sparty’s loss to Kansas, 90-70, in the Second Round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State opened up the scoring and an early 9-6 lead, but neither team would get much separation throughout most of the first half. However, with the score tied at 27-all with 5:02 until halftime, the Jayhawks exploded on a 13-2 run. However, MSU would respond with a 7-0 run of their own to finish the first half, and Kansas took a 40-35 lead into the break.
The Jayhawks would maintain their lead for the first several minutes of the second half before MSU drew to within 2 points at 50-48 following a Nick Ward jumper with 15:16 still to play. Kansas quickly reestablished a six-point lead, but MSU came back again, getting it down to a one-point deficit at 54-53 on an Alvin Ellis layup with 12:18 to go. Kansas slowly built its lead back up, however, taking a 10-point advantage on a Lagerald Vick layup with 8:08 to play that forced a Tom Izzo timeout.
After a questionable technical foul call on Vick for taunting following a dunk, Michigan State closed to 71-65 following a pair of Miles Bridges free throws with 6:43 left. It only served to spark the jayhawks, however, as KU could close the game on a 29-5 run, absolutely demolishing the Spartans over the final six minutes of the game en route to a 90-70 final.
THIS and THAT
Josh Jackson, you stud you.
After a jittery 0-3 shooting start to the game, Jackson finished 9-16 for 23 points with 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 missed dunk, and countless displays of athleticism.
Not to be outdone, Frank Mason threw in 20 points on 6-16 shooting. Despite going 0-4 from behind the arc, Mason again was a leader on the floor for the Jayhawks, taking the game over when necessary while adding 5 assists, 2 steals, and hitting all 8 of his free throws.
Devonte Graham had an excellent game, going 7-10 from the floor, including 4-6 from behind the arc. Graham also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
Lagerald Vick was the main contributor off the bench, getting 7 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Dwight Coleby had maybe his best game of the season? In 9 minutes spelling Landen Lucas, Coleby had a putback, made 1-2 free throws, and collected four big rebounds.
Carlton Bragg was a liability in his five minutes, picking up 3 fouls.
As a team, Kansas hit 8-20 (40.0%) three pointers.
The Jayhawks were nails from the charity stripe, sinking 14-15 (93.3%).
KU shot 53.1% from the field overall while holding Michigan State to 43.9%.
Kansas outrebounded MSU 36-28.
Kansas will take on 4-seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO, on Thursday, March 27. The game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of Oregon vs Michigan, which tips at 6:09 PM Central Time. So, 8:30-ish for the Jayhawks.
We’ll have more on the MSU game in the next day or two, but for now, the comments section is yours.