“Just get it to Sprint Center.” That was the attitude all season long for Kansas, knowing that the Midwest Regional of the NCAA tournament was being held in Kansas City.
Now that the Jayhawks have gotten it to the Sprint Center, we got our chance to see just how valuable of an advantage playing 30 miles away from Allen Fieldhouse is. It’s really, really valuable.
No. 1 Kansas, behind an electric offensive performance, stormed past No. 4 Purdue, 98-66, in the Sweet 16.
All week, the story was “Kansas’ backcourt vs. Purdue’s frontcourt.” One of those sides quite clearly won out. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham both scored 26 points, combining for nine threes and nine assists. As for Caleb Swanigan, who entered with a nation-leading 28 double-doubles, KU held him to six baskets while forcing six turnovers.
The Boilermakers came out of the gates on fire, making six of their first 10 threes. They controlled the first 15 minutes of the game, taking an eight-point lead at 33-25. From there, though, it was entirely KU. The Jayhawks ended the half on a 22-7 run to take a seven-point lead into the locker room. The three-point shot was working, and with Landen Lucas and Dwight Coleby holding down the paint, there was absolutely nothing stopping Kansas.
Everybody is going to rave about the offensive numbers put up by Mason, Graham, and the rest of KU’s offense. But the key in the game was the tremendous job that Lucas and Coleby did on Swanigan and the rest of the Purdue backcourt. Isaac Haas, a 7’2″ center, was 5/6 from the floor in the first half. He did not score after halftime. As for Swanigan, who did manage to score 18 points, was held to seven rebounds and turned the ball over six times.
As for the offense, an absolutely dominant second half propelled the Jayhawks to a 32-point win, which is the biggest they’ve ever achieved in tournament play after first weekend games. In the second half, Kansas outscored Purdue 51-26. With 15 minutes left, Purdue was within four. From there, it was all KU.
Over the last 25 minutes of the game, the Jayhawks went on a 73-33 run. The 32-point loss is the worst NCAA tournament defeat in the history of Purdue basketball.
Mason (26), Graham (26), and Josh Jackson (15) did the bulk of the scoring, but the highlight of the night was Lagerald Vick’s 360 breakaway dunk that sent the Sprint Center into a state of chaos. With a heavy KU crowd going nuts, the Jayhawks coasted from that point.
Up next: a battle with No. 3 Oregon for the right to go to the Final Four. The Jayhawks and Ducks both lost in the Elite Eight last year. This year, they meet with a spot in Phoenix on the line.
- Frank Mason: 26 points (9/11 FG, 4/5 from three), seven rebounds, and seven assists. I mean…good lord. He’s the player of the year. Game, set, match.
- Devonte’ Graham: 26 points (7/15 FG, 5/9 from three), in his best game of the year. He was a flat-out assassin. Purdue had no match for him.
- Josh Jackson: 15 points (6/13 FG) and 12 rebounds, plus four steals. He is KU’s most talented all-around player. Once again, he overcame a slow start to have a solid all-around performance.
- Landen Lucas only had two points, four rebounds, and four fouls. But he played outstanding defense. Partner that with Dwight Coleby’s two points and one rebound, and you realize how much more important they are defensively than offensively because the Jayhawks still managed to score 98 points.
- Svi Mykhailiuk had 10 points, and Lagerald Vick had 12. They both were fantastic.
- Walk-ons played for the third straight tournament game! That’s always a good-sign.
- The Jayhawks out-rebounded Purdue, which is kind of remarkable considering how things sounded coming into the week. 36-29 was the final margin.
- KU: 55% from the floor, 54% (15-for-28) on threes, and 68% from the line.
- Fifteen threes. Geeeeez.
- This team is good, you guys. Really good.