Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Kansas' Josh Jackson gets rejected by the rim

Kansas' Josh Jackson gets rejected by the rim

They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Mo, their first since 2014.

If Jackson can have a huge game the rest of the way, though, and lead Kansas to the Sweet 16, there's also a good chance that most will forget this even happened on Sunday.

Late scores from Mason and Jackson pushed the lead out to 17 points, and a three from Graham with less than a minute to play extended the lead to 20, 90-70. That led to a five-point possession - two free throws and a Matt McQuaid 3-pointer - for MSU to make the margin five just three seconds later. "They shot it fairly well, but they competed, they defended and they cared about the right things". Kansas does not have the size they normally have, which helps the Spartans, who play a small lineup due to injuries.

Added Lucas: "That was the first time, really, I think this year, where we did that at the end of the game". "They just took over".

Detroit native Jackson, who grew up a fan of Michigan State, was one point better than one of his best friends, MSU freshman Miles Bridges, who had 22 points and eight boards. Few teams have a 1-2 punch like Mason and Jackson, and nobody surpasses their grit. Guard Lagerald Vick scored on a layup off a down-the-lane pass from Graham to put the Jayhawks ahead by 10 with 8:07 remaining. He finished with two blocks and two steals while outshining the Spartans' core of talented freshmen.

"(Coleby) gave us the spark we needed", Mason said.

But foul trouble began to creep up on him again.

Jackson opened that pivotal 13-4 run with a bucket and foul shot and three.

Michigan State didn't have a typical season by its lofty standards, losing 15 games, but this was a huge statement win for Bill Self's team.

Like Bridges, Jackson is likely a one-and-done type player, given his combination of size, skill and length that National Basketball Association teams covet, but he has a chance to make a huge impact as a freshman.

The Jayhawks knew that MSU was going to be a tough out and through the first 10 minutes of the first half MSU was able to hold their ground and doing so without Miles Bridges. After a quiet first half Nick Ward became more involved on the offensive and defensive sides for Michigan State getting into double figures with 11 points.

After Jackson had scored 14 of his game-high 23 points in the final 12 minutes, I asked Self how nice it was to have a player of Jackson's ability be so assertive at such an important time of year. A conference tournament victory gets the Spartans a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament where the Spartans return to the second weekend, but fall just short of a trip to the Final Four.

Eighth-seeded Wisconsin took out No. 1 overall seed and defending national champion Villanova in a second-round game Saturday, and No. 7 MI ousted No. 2 Louisville on Sunday.

Joe Clifford: Michigan State will look to advance to the Sweet 16 with a win over Kansas.

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