The Michigan State men’s basketball team’s season came to an end on Sunday, as the ninth-seeded Spartans to top-seeded Kansas 90-70 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region in Tulsa, Okla.
With the loss, Michigan State closes the 2016-17 campaign with a 20-15 record, 10-8 in Big Ten play. The Jayhawks (30-4), meanwhile, advance to the Sweet 16, where they’ll meet another Big Ten foe, No. 4 seed Purdue (27-7). That game will be Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
How Michigan State’s loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament happened
After the two teams played each other to a 17-all tie through the game’s opening 10 minutes, Kansas pulled ahead on a Josh Jackson jumper at the 9:53 mark. But Spartans forward Miles Bridges answered back with a 3-pointer to give MSU a 20-19 advantage on the ensuing possession.
The teams went back and forth throughout the ensuing 4-plus minutes before a Svi Mykhailiuk jumper gave Kansas a 29-27 lead with 4:48 remaining in the half — the start of a 13-2 Jayhawks run that spanned 3 minutes. Michigan State, however, bounced back to close the final 1:14 of the half on a 6-0 run of its own to climb within 40-35 at the half.
Kansas managed to keep the Spartans at an arm’s length through the first 4 minutes of the second half, but found itself threatened when a Nick Ward jumper capped another 6-0 run and cut the Jayhawks’ lead to 50-48 with 15:20 remaining in the game. An Alvin Ellis III layup at the 12:17 mark trimmed Kansas’ advantage to 54-53, but the Jayhawks’ talent advantage would prove to be too much as a Lagerald Vick layup at the 8:07 mark capped a 13-4 KU run, giving the Jayhawks’ their first double-digit advantage of the night.
Kansas would proceed to close the final 6:54 on a 21-6 run, seemingly sealing the game with a Devonte’ Graham 3-pointer at the 4:41 mark, which gave the Jayhawks an 80-67 advantage.
What Michigan State’s loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament loss means
Considering the Spartans entered the season ranked ninth in the Coaches’ Poll, it’d be hard not to view Michigan State’s season as a disappointment. Although the Spartans dealt with injuries throughout the season — including a hip issue for Bridges that clearly limited his effort vs. the Jayhawks — and played valiantly in their final outing, Michigan State fell short of its expectations to be a national-title contender in 2017.
Who starred in Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas
Bridges, who briefly exited the first half due that apparent hip injury, scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. He was joined in double-digit scoring by Ward (13) and Joshua Langford (10).
Jackson, Kansas’ star freshman forward, led all scorers with 23 points.
Who struggled in Michigan’s NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas
Ellis scored just 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting. In 20 minutes of action, Kenny Goins netted a plus-minus of minus-25.
With its disappointing 2016-17 season over, Michigan State faces its fair share of uncertainty heading into the offseason. Most notably, Bridges, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, has a decision on his hands when it comes to whether to return for his sophomore season or enter the NBA draft.
DraftExpress.com currently pegs Bridges as the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft.
The Spartans are already set to lose guard Eron Harris (10.4 points per game), who hasn’t played since February due to a knee injury, and Ellis. But they possess a promising core of freshmen thanks to Ward, Langford and Cassius Winston.
Who was there
Former Michigan State star and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green spent pre-game in the Spartans’ locker room before watching warmups next to his former head coach, Tom Izzo. Green’s Warriors will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Draymond Green in Tulsa to cheer on his Spartans! pic.twitter.com/PXzVe9X3EQ
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 19, 2017