High-flying Jayhawks outrun Purdue, 98-66, to advance to the Elite Eight
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas basketball advanced to the Elite Eight for the second-straight season with a 98-66 victory over No. 4 seed Purdue on Thursday night at Sprint Center in the NCAA Championship Midwest Regional Semifinal.
The Jayhawks (31-4) advance to their seventh Elite Eight appearance under head coach Bill Self and will face No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday at 7:39 p.m. Central time on TBS.
“I thought it was one of the best games we played all year, Self said after the game. “I thought Purdue was great early, obviously, and had us on our heels and we knocked down some shots to get us the lead at halftime. But the second half I thought we were great on both ends, shot the ball extremely well, but our activity defensively was what spurred us.”
National Player of the Year front-runner, senior guard Frank Mason III, tallied 26 points on a wildly efficient 11 shots. The Petersburg, Virginia, native shot 9-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range to reach 20 points for the sixth-straight game and the 22nd time this season.
Mason becomes the sixth player to record at least 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in an NCAA Tournament game since assists became official in 1984. With its 32-point victory, Kansas becomes just the sixth team to win its first three games in the NCAA Tournament by 20 points or more.
Big Ten champion Purdue (27-8) bows out of the tournament after advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010. Kansas held All-American forward Caleb Swanigan, below his double-double average to 18 points and seven rebounds while forcing six turnovers.
Freshman guard Josh Jackson added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Jayhawks. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and All-American candidate now has 12 double-doubles on the season.
Junior guard Devonte’ Graham helped leave no doubt that the Jayhawks would advance to the Elite Eight by scoring 11-straight Kansas points late in the second half, on the way to his total of 26 points with five 3-pointers on the night.
Purdue’s front line of 7-foot-2 Issac Haas and 6-foot-9 Swanigan proved to be outmatched by KU’s quickness and versatility, even with KU starting center Landen Lucas playing limited minutes (20) due to foul trouble – Lucas’ third foul came with 15 minutes remaining and the Jayhawks nursing a five-point lead.
Despite Purdue’s apparent size advantage to the Jayhawks’ four-guard starting lineup, Kansas went on to outscore Purdue in the paint, 34-22, and outrebound the Boilermakers, 36-29.
The Boilermakers showed a hot shooting hand early in the game, beginning the first half by making six of its first eight shots, including four 3-pointers, to break out to an eight-point 33-25 lead at the 6:46 mark.
The Jayhawks eliminated Purdue’s eight-point lead and took control of the contest with a 17-3 run in a span of nearly four minutes.
Jackson helped spark the run with his defense – stealing the ball from Swanigan and starting a fast break opportunity for Mason, who made an and-1 layup, plus the free throw, to complete a 3-point play.
Mykhailiuk made a pair of 3-pointers during KU’s critical 17-3 run. His first trey came thanks to the hustle of Lucas, who tracked down an offensive rebound and kicked it out to an open Mykhailiuk for three to tie the game at 33. Purdue briefly reclaimed a 35-33 lead, but the Ukraine native responded with his second trey in less than a minute to give Kansas a 36-35 lead.
Swanigan tied the contest, 36-36, for the third and final time by making a free throw, but on the ensuing KU possession Lucas dished it to a cutting Jackson for a wide open tomahawk dunk, giving KU a 38-36 lead with 4:03 remaining before halftime.
The Jayhawks would not trail for the remainder of the night.
After Purdue started the first half shooting a hot 6-for-8 from the field, Kansas returned the favor by finishing the first half making six of its final eight shots on the way to a 47-40 halftime lead.
Kansas would carry its momentum into the second half with a dominant 66.7 second-half shooting percentage and a series of awe-inspiring dunks to bring the Sprint Center crowd of 18,475 fans to their feet. One such dunk came from sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, who stole a Purdue pass and slammed home a 360-degree flush to put Kansas up by nine, 63-54, with 12 minutes remaining.
Kansas closed the last 15 minutes of regulation with a 40-12 run.
Kansas improved to 4-2 all-time versus Purdue, including 3-1 in NCAA Tournament match-ups. The Jayhawks are now 35-11 as a No. 1 seed. Purdue falls to 4-6 in the Regional Semifinals and 37-29 overall in the tournament.
The Jayhawks’ last win over a No. 4 seed was against Southern Illinois, 61-58, in 2007. They lost to No. 4 seed Michigan, 87-85 (OT), in 2013.
KU becomes the first team since UConn in 1995 to score 90-plus points in each of its first three games of the tournament.
At 6:46 remaining in the first half, after falling behind by eight points, 33-25, KU closed the game on a 77-33 run.
KU freshman guard Josh Jackson finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds to notch his 12th double-double of the season.
The Jayhawk backcourt duo of senior Frank Mason and junior Devonte Graham each poured in 26 points. From 7:39 to 4:19 in the second half, Graham scored 11-straight points for KU.
KU hit 15 three-pointers in the contest, good for its most made in an NCAA tournament game. The previous record was 13, set against Niagara in 2007. The Jayhawks also won that game, 107-67.
KU and Purdue combined for the second-most three-pointers made in a Regional Semifinal game. The two teams shot 25-55 from behind the arc.
FRANK MASON III, Senior, G
• Scored 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, including a 4-of-5 mark from beyond the arc.
• His 26 points sets a career high for games during NCAA Tournament play.
• Has six-straight 20-point games. Totals 22 20-point games this season and 26 for his career.
• Made 109th-straight start, just one behind Aaron Miles (110) for third on KU’s all-time list.
• Averaging 22.7 points, 7.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds through three NCAA Tournament games. Also shooting 56.1 percent (23-for-41) from the field and 88.2 percent (15-for-17) from the free throw line during NCAA postseason play.
• With four 3-pointers on the night, Mason has made 183 career 3-pointers, which passes Mario Chalmers (2006-08) for eighth on KU’s all-time treys list.
• With seven assists on the night, Mason has 572 career assists, which passes Adonis Jordan (1990-93) for eighth on KU’s all-time treys list.
JOSH JACKSON, Freshman, G
• Scored 15 points with 12 rebounds in 36 minutes.
• Recorded his 12th double-double of the season and first during postseason play.
DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Junior, G
• Scored 26 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range in 35 minutes.
• Shooting 59.1 percent (13-for-22) from 3-point range through three NCAA Tournament games.
• Becomes the first player to hit at least four 3-pointers in four-straight NCAA Tournament games since Stephen Curry did with Davidson in 2008.
• Now has 1,072 career points, passing Ryan Robertson (1996-99; 1,055), Kelly Knight (1980, 82-84; 1,057), Otto Schnellbacher (1943, 46-48; 1,062) and Rex Walters (1992-93; 1,064) for 45th on KU’s all-time scoring list.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.