Following a blowout loss to top-ranked Kentucky in the Champions Classic, No. 11 Kansas has rallied off four straight wins, the latest coming on Sunday afternoon with a 61-56 win over No. 20 Michigan State to win the Orlando Classic title.
Frank Mason gave the Jayhawks a seven-point lead with just over 2:30 to play, however, Travis Trice cut it to a one-possession game with a minute and a half remaining with a 3-pointer.
There was still more than enough time on the clock to orchestrate the comeback, but credit to Kansas’ defense, which forced the Spartans to burn considerable time off the clock searching for a good shot.
Michigan State held a one-point lead at halftime, but Kansas went on a 10-2 run to open the second half as Sparty went cold from the field — 1-of-12 to start the half and 8-of-33 (1-of-9 from three) in the final 20 minutes.
Tom Izzo was not happy with his team’s execution on offense, especially from close-range (transcribed Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital-Journal):
“The number of layups we missed was incredible,” he said. “I think a dead man can make a layup. We missed some layups. Very disappointed in that. Nobody guarded us on the layups. We self-defended.”
Perry Ellis led the way with 17 points and nine boards, earning himself tournament MVP honors. Mason had a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had 11. Trice and Denzel Valentine each had 14 for Michigan State and while the KU forward shined, Michigan State’s forward, Branden Dawson, struggled for eight points of 4-of-15 shooting.
Kansas hosts No. 18 Florida on Friday. Michigan State will travel to South Bend to play Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the last opportunity for the Spartans to land a marquee non-conference win.