"Josh is a hell of a player", Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Jackson, the Detroit native who played his last two high school seasons at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., after leading Detroit Consortium to a state title as a sophomore, picked Kansas over Michigan State last spring and it proved to be the right choice for him. The Jayhawks will advance to play No. 4 Purdue next weekend.
KU led by as many as 11 in the first half and got nine points apiece from Svi Mykhailiuk, Josh Jackson and Mason, as well as nine boards from Lucas.
A healthy off-season of development for McQuaid and Kyle Ahrens should help them take the next step towards consistency. "So we're all excited", said senior guard Frank Mason. "Granted, I hope everybody makes every shot, but the reality of it is we can run better offense". MSU shot 56 percent, out-rebounded the Hurricanes by 13, turned the ball over only five times in the final 31 minutes and got 57 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists and just two turnovers from its four freshmen.
Not long after the Jayhawks' knocked off Michigan State and just a few minutes before Baylor stepped onto the BOK Center floor for its game against USC, Baylor coach Scott Drew peeked his head into the Kansas locker room and shouted, "Great job, guys".
Jackson will be emblematic of a Kansas team that has won big on the court but dealt with multiple problems off of it.
The Jayhawks knew that MSU was going to be a tough out and through the first 10 minutes of the first half MSU was able to hold their ground and doing so without Miles Bridges. "We're going to need that moving forward because you never know who's going to get in foul trouble or an injury or anything like that". With 7:33 remaining in the game, Kansas guard LaGerald Vick threw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk.
But no doubt Michigan State set out to intimidate KU. Of their 16 conference wins, 11 were by seven points or less. It is a primetime game against one of the best teams int he country, but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.
Bridges scored 13 points to lead the Spartans in the first half.
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.
But they both play like losing is not an option, and their teammates follow suit. Lucky for the them, they are coming off one of their best performances of the year.
Frank Mason also scored 20 points, giving the outstanding trio a cool 71 (read: one more than MSU's entire team) for the game.
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Kansas is the clear favorite in this game, as the Jayhawks are getting odds of -8 points against Michigan State. A lot of possibly-NBA-bound players would have called off the dogs and sat the rest of the way, but Bridges battled and ended up with 22 points and 8 rebounds. "Now, that doesn't mean we have an advantage or anything like that, but you would think that would be a nice reward to having a good season".