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March Madness: Kansas dominates Purdue in second half to advance

Frank Mason III, #0, of the Kansas Jayhawks

Frank Mason III, #0, of the Kansas Jayhawks handles the ball in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers during an NCAA Tournament men's basketball game on Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Kansas City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jamie Squire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas left the Sprint Center on Thursday night having secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional final, but forgive the Jayhawks if they need a little quiet time before tomorrow’s game against Oregon.

As much fun as it was to rout Purdue, 98-66, the Jayhawks’ ears likely will be ringing for a while in the aftermath.

That is because while this technically is a neutral site — it’s in an entirely different state from the university, after all — the reality is it is less than an hour drive to Lawrence, Kansas, close enough that Jayhawks fans generated a din every time their favorites did something spectacular. Which was often, as it turned out.

No. 1 seed Kansas (31-4) had far too much for No. 4 seed Purdue (27-8) to handle. The Jayhawks put on an NBA-style show of fast breaks, 360-degree dunks, alley-oops and long-range baskets.

“I thought it was one of the best games we played all year,” coach Bill Self said. Ya think?

Purdue led by eight in the first half, but Kansas made it 47-40 at halftime when, in the final minute, Frank Mason III sank a three-pointer and Lagerald Vick scored on an alley-oop dunk after his own steal.

That turned out to be only the start of Kansas’ emphatic statement. The Boilermakers did hang tough early in the second half . . . for a bit. Then Kansas started to pull away, and it got ugly quickly for Purdue. A steal and a breakaway, 360-degree dunk by Vick made it 63-54. Josh Jackson followed with a three-pointer, and it was 66-54 with 11:35 left.

Mason added a three to make it 69-54, and it was all but over. The largest margin, 32 points, was the final margin.

The hyped matchup between two National Player of the Year candidates went decisively to Mason, who totaled 26 points, 9-for-11 shooting (4-for-5 on three-pointers), seven assists and seven rebounds. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and six turnovers.

Devonte’ Graham added 26 points for Kansas, which made two-thirds of its shots from the field (18-for-27) in the second half. Carsen Edwards shot 1-for-10 for Purdue.

Graham said he thought that initially the Jayhawks were too eager to please on the big stage. “We were just real anxious,” he said. “They had us on our heels.”

Eventually, they settled down. “I think the game kind of slowed down for us,” Graham said.

It never slowed down for their fans. “Thirty-five miles away from Lawrence, it’s basically in our backyard,” Mason said. “We’re just thankful we had the opportunity to play here and wanted to take advantage of it.”

Done.

FRANK MASON III

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