Top-seeded Jayhawks cruise into title game
KANSAS 98, PURDUE 66
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.