Jackson's strong second half lifts Kansas past Spartans

The most significant departure Izzo will have to deal with is Miles Bridges, who could very well declare for the National Basketball Association draft after putting together the best freshman season at MSU by anyone not named Magic Johnson.

The two childhood friends who almost became college teammates squared off in the second round of the Midwest Regional at the BOK Center and neither player disappointed.

- Sindarius Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and seventh-seeded SC stunned No. 2 seed Duke 88-81 on Sunday night to advance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament's expanded bracket.

Kansas pulled ahead and appeared on its way to blowing out Michigan State, getting ahead 40-29 with less than two minutes until halftime.

Now, with a Sweet 16 matchup between Kansas and Big Ten champion Purdue looming, the battle comes down to the Jayhawks' guards vs.

But a night that began with Jackson playing out of control and "too juiced up", as Self would later say, ended with him checking out of the game, inciting the excitement from the pro-Kansas crowd as he walked to the bench with the game in hand.

"Until Eron came in, it was just me and Gav", Ellis said. I tried to force stuff a little bit.

"It was a hard game to coach in large part because nobody listened to me", Self joked.

Michigan State knows how to keep teams from running good offense and the Jayhawks didn't make it any easier on themselves by displaying itchy trigger fingers.

MI went on to win the tournament and has now won 12 of 14. The Wolverines are the real deal, and they're here to dance.

Swanigan and Haas can have monster games, but Purdue's guards are going to be asked to do more than they've done all year. They are also facing an MSU team that plays some decent defense.

With Bridges and Jackson matching up for most of the game, things got chippy a couple of times as the old friends weren't about to back down. As expected they both had big games, Jackson with 23, Bridges with 22, and also as expected, KU's experienced guards made the biggest difference. Then, "we died", MSU coach Tom Izzo said.

"An wonderful season for us, conference champions, the run we've been on, the heart we showed today and the high level of play", Hurley said. "He's just a great player, a great teammate and great person to be around".

Bridges scored 13 points to lead the Spartans in the first half.

Bridges had a large ice pack on his hip following the game and admitted it limited his movement throughout the rest of the game.

"He brought us his experience", Bridges said.

The recruiting class and offseason adjustments will become way more critical than Michigan State's schedule if the Spartans want to get back to pushing their season into April. "And Josh deserves a ton of credit. I had to play this game". 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. "I watched the game against Iowa State and they execute really well". Despite that lack of experience, their strong showing in Friday's win over Miami and for much of the game against the favored Jayhawks helped ease the frustration of what had been a largely up-and-down season before the tournament.

  • Julie Sanders