The Jayhawks will face Michigan State Sunday with tip-off set for 4:15p. A three-pointer from the logo and a jab step corner three over Jawun Evans pushed Michigan's lead to 8 points with just under 7 minutes to play. Guard Miles Bridges added 18 and guard Joshua Langford had 13.
It was a defense-optional affair, but U-M found its shooting stroke just at the right time.
"When we feed off each of each other, we're hard to beat", Ward said.
Ja'Quan Newton led Miami with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The Spartans built an early 15-4 lead in that game and never looked back.
This time, the Spartans flipped the script.
After First Round losses to Georgia State (2015) and Yale (2016), Baylor junior Al Freeman (21 points) came off the bench and had the biggest impact on the game for the Bears in their win.
Huggins hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give New Mexico State a 40-38 lead at the half.
The Midwest Region is full of capable and tradition rich schools and the winner between these two squads has the privilege of facing the victor in the second-seeded Louisville versus fifteen seed Jacksonville State on Sunday afternoon.
Izzo pointed to the Spartans' rigorous schedule this season benefiting them now. "We can use that again". Not just the first round, but he's been known to fall short of expectations in the NCAA Tournament - although he does have a title to his name. Now that his past discrepancies are behind him, he'll have to be locked in against the Spartans to get his team to the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Offensively, Michigan State ranked 57th nationally and 6th in the Big 10 scoring 1.05 PPP in a somewhat weak league, but they do some things that could frustrate KU.
Miami will rely on the senior leadership of Davon Reed in this one and hopefully the role players will show up. Michigan State is also 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 versus the Big 12, and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog.
"I see a guy that can really see the floor", Kansas coach Bill Self said of Winston.
Michigan State was also dominant in their opener.
"Once the momentum shifted from our side, I thought we played very well the first 10 minutes, to their side, they basically totally controlled the last 10 minutes of the half", Larranaga said. Another potential danger is Michigan State is 2nd in the nation in assists per field goal made, suggesting they will be able to stretch KU out a bit.
The red-hot Wolverines, of course, are the latter, having courageously gathered their wits after what could have been a devastating plane crash to win four straight games and capture the Big Ten Tournament crown as the No. 8 seed.
The Spartans' remarkable record as an underdog in the NCAA Tournament is one of those Izzo isn't so sure is a good thing.