Top-seeded Jay­hawks cruise into ti­tle game

KANSAS 98, PUR­DUE 66

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Dave Skretta

kansas city, mo.» Na­tional player of the year front-run­ner Frank Ma­son III poured in 26 points, Kansas turned on the jets in the sec­ond half and the topseeded Jay­hawks soared to a 98-66 blowout of No. 4 seed Pur­due in the Mid­west Re­gional semi­fi­nals Thurs­day night.

Devonte Gra­ham also had 26 points and Josh Jack­son had 15 points and 12 re­bounds for the Jay­hawks (31-4), who led by seven points at half­time be­fore their up-and-down pace fi­nally wore down the Big Ten cham­pion Boil­er­mak­ers.

Kansas used two big runs, in­clud­ing an 11-0 charge high­lighted by Lager­ald Vick’s 360-de­gree drunk, to coast into a matchup with No. 3 seed Ore­gon on Satur­day for a berth in the Fi­nal Four.

The Ducks sur­vived a nail-biter against Michi­gan ear­lier Thurs­day.

Caleb Swani­gan had 18 points and seven boards for the Boil­er­mak­ers (27-8), but the 6-foot-9, 250-pound All-Amer­ica can­di­date had to work for all of it. The Jay­hawks kept col­laps­ing on him in the post, forc­ing Swani­gan to be­gin tak­ing 3point­ers early in the sec­ond half.

It wasn’t much longer be­fore the game was out of reach for Pur­due.

The Big 12 cham­pion Jay­hawks rolled to easy wins over UC Davis and Michi­gan State to start the NCAA Tour­na­ment, and the cold, cal­cu­lat­ing way they routed Pur­due should make them the fa­vorite the rest of the way. If they weren’t the pop­u­lar pick al­ready.

Pur­due stunned the sell­out crowd at the Sprint Cen­ter early by hoist­ing up 3point­ers. Pur­due’s un­der­rated guards took ad­van­tage of con­stant dou­ble-teams of Swani­gan and 7-2 Isaac Haas in­side, let­ting loose a bar­rage of deep shots. By the time Kansas re­al­ized the game had started, coach Matt Painter’s Boil­er­mak­ers had raced to a 25-18 lead mid­way through the first half.

The Jay­hawks even­tu­ally found their foot­ing, and the crowd that showed up a mere 40-minute drive from their cam­pus in Lawrence pro­vided the sound­track to a strong end of the first half.

Kansas closed the first half on a 22-7 run to take a 47-40 lead into half­time.

Things go so loud in­side the down­town arena that Painter, who said Kansas earned the right to play a quasi-home game in the re­gional, re­sorted to scrib­bling of­fen­sive sets on a dry erase board.

And the roars for Kansas only got louder in the sec­ond half.

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