KANSAS CITY, MO – It took about 10 minutes for Kansas guards Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to slow down, gain their composure and get everything under control in their Midwest Regional semifinal.
When that happened, everything promptly sped up for Purdue.
The pace of the game turning in their favor, the high-flying Jayhawks proceeded to wear down the bigger, stronger Boilermakers on Thursday night. And by the time Mason and Graham finished pouring in 26 points apiece, No. 1 seed Kansas had coasted to a 98-66 victory.
Josh Jackson added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Landen Lucas did a good job of keeping Purdue forwards Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas in check, as the Jayhawks (31-4) overcame a seven-point halftime lead.
”You just cannot let them get in transition like that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. ”If they keep getting those types of opportunities and shoot like that, they can’t be stopped.”
Swanigan still had 18 points and seven boards for the No. 4 seed 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 3-pointers early in the second half.
It wasn’t much longer before the game was out of reach.
The game shaped up as a contrast of styles: the slick, speedy athleticism that carried the Jayhawks to the Big 12 title against the bruising, post-dominated play of the Boilermakers.
Purdue promptly stunned a sold-out Sprint Center by hoisting up early 3-pointers.
Their underrated guards took advantage of constant double-teams of Swanigan and Haas in the paint, letting loose a barrage of deep shots. By the time Kansas realized the game had started, Painter’s team had raced to a 25-18 lead midway through the first half.
The Jayhawks eventually found their footing, as they went on a 22-7 run to end the half.
Ryan Cline‘s 3-pointer got Purdue within 58-54 with 14:39 to go, and that’s when the Jayhawks ripped off a game-defining 11-0 run.
When Mason knocked down his fourth 3, the lead had grown to 69-54 with 10 minutes left – and it just kept growing.
Asked whether he plans to turn pro, Swanigan replied: ”I haven’t thought about it.” The sophomore went on to say he doesn’t have a timetable to make a decision after emerging as a potential first-round NBA draft pick during his breakout season with the Boilermakers.
Purdue got 12 points from P.J. Thompson and 11 from Haas, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Vincent Edwards was held to eight points after big games against Vermont and Iowa State, while Carsen Edwards had six points on 1-for-10 shooting. He was 0 for 5 from beyond the arc.