Kansas looks like a team on a mission. The Jayhawks dispatched a good Purdue team Thursday night with ease. After a tight first half during which it trailed by as much as eight, Bill Self’s squad exploded over the last 25 minutes to blow out the Boilermakers 98-66. Caleb Swanigan and company will now head back to Lafayette wondering if anyone got the license plate of that truck that just hit them.
The Jayhawks were sublime Thursday night in Kansas City. They carved up Purdue’s defense with drives, pounded the glass, hit big shots and wowed with their athleticism. They outscored the Boilermakers by an incredible 25 points in the second half.
Frank Mason III, who is my pick for National Player of the Year, dominated the action while displaying poise and leadership. While Mason was doing his thing, freshman phenom Josh Jackson introduced himself to America. It was a complete victory and the win showed just how good Self’s squad can be.
Kansas wound up shooting 54.8 percent from the field and a smoking 53.6 percent from beyond the arc (15-for-28). Mason poured in 26 points while grabbing five boards and dishing out seven assists in one of the tournament’s best individual performances to date. Devonte' Graham added 26 points, while Jackson had 15 and 12 rebounds.
Self’s team is completely locked in right now and has all the ingredients needed to win a title. Kansas has senior leadership at the point guard position with Mason, who is looking a lot like Kemba Walker did for UConn in 2011. They also have a virtually unguardable future NBA star in Jackson. But the Jayhawks have so much more than that.
Graham averages 13.7 points per game and shoots 39.8 percent from 3-point range. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a versatile, 6’8″ shooter with length, who can get hot at any time. Landen Lucas is a load in the post with a savvy of a senior who has seen everything during his time on campus. Meanwhile, Lagerald Vick is an explosive sophomore guard and Carlton Bragg is a massive, 6’10” and 240-pound banger in the post.
While there isn’t a ton of depth past the team’s first seven players, it doesn’t seem to matter. The Jayhawks are so good they don’t need more bodies.
Don’t believe me that Kansas is crazy good? Check out some of these highlights from Thursday night’s shellacking of Purdue:
A Lagerald Vick 360 dunk? Sure:
Frank Mason III dagger 3-pointer over Carsen Edwards? In your eye, freshman:
How about Josh Jackson finishing off an absurd alley-oop? Why not?
That’s just a taste of what the Jayhawks did Thursday night. It was a brilliant performance. The kind of game where a team announces its dominance and gives the impression it can’t be beaten.
Kansas is currently firing on all cylinders and it would take a miracle to stop them right now. If there was any doubt who the best team remaining in the NCAA Tournament was, the Jayhawks erased them Thursday night.