Team-first mentality gets Kansas’ Jackson on track

The “Tom Izzo is awesome 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.

Cassius Winston and Josh Langford both showed flashes this past year, but struggled with consistency – as most freshmen do. It wasn’t until the Jayhawks used a 13-4 run – powered by super freshman Josh Jackson – to escape the Spartans during the final dozen minutes. Kansas head coach Bill Self took a full timeout after the play so the Jayhawks could regroup.

But no doubt Michigan State set out to intimidate KU.

Lucas – he personally thanked Coleby for keeping alive his senior season – had nine points and four rebounds the first half as KU led 40-35 at the break.

– Michigan State and Kansas last met in the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 of the 2009 tournament.

After a tense back-and-forth battle, the Kansas Jayhawks finally pulled away from the Michigan State Spartans to earn a 90-70 win and a trip to the Sweet 16 in the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

After Michigan State cut the game to 1 in the second half, the Jayhawks began to bury the Spartans with a barrage of 3’s, drives to the baskets and easy lobs inside for flushes. “They certainly played unselfish and still got numbers”.

Jackson, the Detroit native who played his last two high school seasons at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., after leading Detroit Consortium to a state title as a sophomore, picked Kansas over Michigan State last spring and it proved to be the right choice for him.

Kansas advances to the Midwest Regional Semifinals where the Jayhawks will play Big Ten regular season champ Purdue.

“I caught an elbow in the hip”, Bridges said. “But if you compare it to elite-level teams, I’m not sure that we’ve always been tough enough”. With some clutch buckets from him and Devonte’ Graham, the Jayhawks will continue to get to the foul line and tack on free points.

“Teams are going to make big runs”.

“I complain all the time about (teams) being soft, but I think historically we’ve had pretty tough teams (when) you compare it to everybody else”, he said. “I don’t know if it was veterans (or) a combination of veterans and youth”.

“After (the Jackson layup), we played lights out”, Self said.

MI senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. finished with just 10 points on an ugly 3 of 13 day. He screamed after the slam and was promptly called for a technical foul.

Jackson and Mason combined for 43 points for Kansas, Bridges scored 22 for MSU. And he delivered the exclamation point dagger with a driving, one-handed jam down the middle of the lane. They swept Boston and IL in the 2011 event and tagged UC Davis and the Spartans with losses this season.

“Once (the lead) got to 10, we was in the huddle and saying the same thing – ‘Lock in, put your foot on they throat, ‘ ” said Graham, who was 7-for-10 shooting with four 3s.

James Lang-USA TODAY SportsPurdue forward Caleb Swanigan pivots against Iowa State defenders Deonte Burton and Monte Morris on Saturday night