TULSA, Okla. — The Kansas basketball team is headed home, but not going home.
The No. 1-seeded Jayhawks turned a close clash with No. 9 seed Michigan State into a blowout, playing some of their best basketball of the season in the game’s final 10 minutes in a 90-70 triumph on Sunday night at BOK Center.
The victory delivers a date with No. 4 seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 to the Jayhawks, who will play just a short drive west of Lawrence in the friendly confines of Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., with the Final Four still within reach.
Detroit native Josh Jackson finished with 23 points for the Jayhawks, while Frank Mason (20 points), Devonte’ Graham (18 points on 7-for-10 shooting) and Landen Lucas (10 points, 11 rebounds) rounded out KU’s double-digit scorers.
A five-point possession — two free throws following a technical foul on KU sophomore guard Lagerald Vick and a Matt McQuaid 3-pointer on the following free possession — brought the Spartans within five with 7:27 to play.
But Vick’s technical followed a stare-down after a dunk that would prove to be the fourth of seven straight makes for the Jayhawks. A Lucas dunk, Mason falling layup and Jackson full-court drive and layup completed the 7-for-7 shooting stretch, giving the Jayhawks a 77-65 lead with just over five minutes left and forcing a Spartans timeout.
The Jayhawks only piled on from there. With the reeling Spartans needing a timeout trailing 87-70 with 1:27 left, a celebratory fist pump and shout from Bill Self signaled the early conclusion of a once-competitive and always chippy contest.
The Jayhawks (30-4) nursed a five-point lead, 40-35, at the end of a wild first half that featured 11 lead changes and six ties. KU recovered from a shaky-shooting start to make six of its last seven shots of the period, but an ill-timed foul from Vick on a 3-point attempt with 2.4 seconds left sent MSU’s Miles Bridges to the free-throw line to cut into the Jayhawk lead before halftime.
KU led by as many as 11 in the first half and got nine points apiece from Svi Mykhailiuk, Josh Jackson and Mason, as well as nine boards from Lucas. But the team went only 3 for 11 from 3-point range in the period.
The Spartans (20-15), meanwhile, didn’t get its first offensive rebound until the 2:35 mark, when Bridges pulled in his own miss to put in a layup and end a 9-0 run for KU. But Mason responded with a jumper, and Graham found Mykhailiuk in transition for a highlight lob-to-dunk play that made the KU lead 40-29.