Top stat: 53, as in Kansas' field-goal percentage compared to 43 percent for Michigan State. The victory gave MSU a 20-win season for the 17th time in the last two decades. But it was the last quarter of the game that caught up to the Spartans that saw the Jayhawks pull away for a 90-70 win. Foul trouble or injuries or a hot-shooting opponent have a tendency to derail juggernauts in late March.
Jackson will be emblematic of a Kansas team that has won big on the court but dealt with multiple problems off of it.
That line can get blurry in the eye of the beholder, though, and it also can be a chicken-and-egg matter to understand who does what first to whom ... especially when there's obvious yapping going on. Jackson's 23 points set a scoring record in the NCAA tournament for a Kansas freshman player. Devonte Graham and Josh Jackson exploited match ups against the likes of Matt McQuaid and Alvin Ellis and put a chokehold on the game in the critical stretch. Landen boarded nine rebounds by the half and helped the Jayhawks outscore MSU in the paint for the half, 16-14.
At the under four media timeout, Kansas began to create some space from MSU thanks to a 13-2 run to push their lead out to 36-27. Ward played four minutes the rest of the way.
The Spartans continued to push and cut the deficit to just a point with 12:14 left to play.
Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send MI past second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday and into the Sweet 16. "Granted, I hope everybody makes every shot, but the reality of it is we can run better offense". They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Missouri, their first since 2014.
"The final margin didn't dictate what a hard game it was", Self said.
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The all-around play of the Wolverines has sent two good teams packing, and if they can keep it up, more water-gun fights are in store for Beilein's bunch.
"Not that much. Not as much as I thought there would be, to be honest, " Jackson said. "We have an advantage with the fans and it just feels like home, feels like (Allen) Fieldhouse". 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.
In other ways, there are similarities to the 1988 NCAA champion Jayhawks and Self's 2012 runners-up. After the slam, he apparently barked at a Spartan player was called for a technical.
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While Swanigan is the main man for the Boilermakers, and is putting up 18 points per game in the dance, which is actually a tad below his 18.5 points per game on the season, Edwards has taken his game to the next level - and then some - in March. The Jayhawks will advance to play No. 4 Purdue next weekend.
Michigan State seems to play the role of underdog well, at least under Tom Izzo, and there's never a loss for hope as long as he's at the helm. The Spartans should be able to hold up their end of the bargain once more next season.