The Spartans were good enough to hang around with the Jayhawks for the first 35 minutes of Sunday's game. They just didn't have enough firepower to pull off the upset.
Kansas put its foot on the gas over the game's final five minutes and pulled away from the Spartans with a 90-70 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the win, the Jayhawks will take on Purdue in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Kansas City.
Miles Bridges, playing through a hip injury suffered from a blow he took in traffic in the first half, led MSU in scoring with 22 points. Nick Ward played well when he was on the floor on his way to 13 points, but his foul trouble was a big factor as Kansas really started to click when he took a seat midway through the second half.
Michigan native and freshman sensation Josh Jackson led the Jayhawks with 23 points, while senior guard Frank Mason III went for 20.
The question now becomes whether or not Bridges, a likely lottery selection in the upcoming NBA Draft, will return to East Lansing for a sophomore season with a bevy of talent set to return to campus.
Kansas starting to pull away
A taunting call on Kansas' Lagerald Vick allowed MSU to cut a 10-point deficit to five with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from Matt McQuaid. The Jayhawks got yet another alley-oop dunk on their next possession, but Miles Bridges hit a pair from the charity stripe to keep the game within reach. Frank Mason III, who was throwing up a lot of those lobs, got to the basket and got a layup for himself. An Alvin Ellis airball and a Cassius Winston turnover badly hurt the Spartans, who now trail 77-65 with 5:35 on the clock.
Jayhawks go up by double-digits
Josh Jackson has knocked down a couple of jumpers right in the face of old friend Miles Bridges, and the Jayhawks lead the Spartans 67-57 with 8:06 left to play.
Jackson has a game-high 17 points and the Spartans are going to have to pick up their defensive pressure because the Jayhawks are getting every shot they want around the basket.
Nick Ward picked up his fourth foul on a questionable call by the officials, sending Dwight Coleby to the line where he split the pair.
MSU charging back
The Spartans were starting to click. Nick Ward finished off a 3-point play out of the timeout and hustled down the floor after a Kansas miss, where he was led perfectly by Cassius Winston for a layup that cut the MSU deficit to two. Unfortunately, Ward picked up his third foul the next time down the floor and had to take a seat on the bench.
After Kansas went back up by six, Matt McQuaid and Alvin Ellis converted on big buckets and the Spartans trail by just one at 54-53 with 12:14 remaining.
Jayhawks holding off Spartans
Josh Jackson came out of nowhere to reject an Alvin Ellis layup and got into its transition offense and got a 3-pointer from Devonte' Graham. Joshua Langford answered for the Spartans, but Frank Mason III completed a 3-point play to push the Kansas lead back to eight. That's where things stand now as the Jayhawks lead 50-42 with 16:30 left to play.
Miles Bridges had the first MSU bucket out of the break, but camera showed him warming up before play started and he had noticeable grimace on his face thanks to a sore hip.
MSU trails at the half
Miles Bridges missed just three minutes of game time when he headed back to the locker room with a soar hip, but that may not have been the scariest three minutes of the first half for Spartans fans as Kansas went on a 17-4 run to get out to a nine-point lead. Bridges, who has a game-high 13 points, was able to convert three free throws with two seconds on the clock to cut the Jayhawks lead to 40-35 heading into the break.
Bridges has been good for MSU, but Kansas has started to play better than the team that was throwing up bad shots for the game's first 15 minutes. Josh Jackson, Frank Mason III and Svi Mykhailiuk all scored nine apiece for the Jayhawks.
Both teams are shooting close to 50 percent in the first half. Kansas has an 18-14 advantage on the boards, while MSU has a 13-3 advantage in bench points.
Jayhawks get out in front
Kansas is in the midst of a 6-0 run and leads 33-27 with 3:51 to play until halftime.
This is a dangerous time for the Spartans, who have gone toe-to-toe with Jayhawks thus far. They have to keep this deficit manageable over the half's final four minutes so that they don't have to come out of the break and try to climb a mountain.
Frank Mason has nine points and a pair of assists for Kansas, who has shown off its ability to run and is now starting to settle into its offense.
Bridges returns, MSU hanging with Kansas
It was the best possible sequence for MSU when Matt McQuaid hit from beyond the arc to tie the game and Miles Bridges checked back into the game at the next dead ball. On the very next possession, Bridges hit his second 3-pointer of the game to answer Josh Jackson's jumper on the other end.
CBS reported that Bridges took an elbow to the hip and that it is still very sore.
Despite the missed time, Bridges still leads MSU in scoring with eight points. At the 8:03 mark of the first half, Kansas leads 21-20.
Bridges heads to the locker room
Miles Bridges is heading to the locker room after appearing to say "I can't move" to one of the MSU trainers.
This would be a huge blow to the Spartans chances today. Kansas is getting a lot of good looks at the basket and has shown off their ability to get down the floor in a hurry. They've missed some easy shots, but that's not going to be the case all game long.
On the plus side, Cassius Winston appears to be in control of the offense. The Spartans are getting good looks, but they also are struggling to cash in.
With 11:58 left in the first half, Kansas leads 15-12.
Bridges has to come out
Hold your breath, Spartan fans.
Miles Bridges, grabbing his side, had to come off the floor for MSU.
At the 13:29 mark of the first half, Kansas leads 12-9.
MSU, Bridges off to a good start
In need of a huge performance for its best player, MSU got a 3-pointer from Miles Bridges to get things started. After both teams combined for a 2-for-9 start from the field, Bridges got another bucket, this one coming on a drive to the basket. Kansas is showing off its depth, however, and this game looks like it's going to be an up-and-down marathon.
At the 15:29 mark of the first half, the Spartans lead 9-6.
MSU set to battle Kansas in heavyweight showdown
After the first 10 minutes of its opening round game with Miami, there's probably quite a few people that didn't think MSU would be in a position to get to the Sweet 16.
Well, Tom Izzo's crew turned it up for the final 30 minutes and blew out the Hurricanes to set up a date with top-seeded Kansas in Tulsa.
Despite relying heavily on four freshmen, the Spartans will walk into this game with a bit of swagger in their step after they played to their potential on Friday night.
The matchup everyone will be paying attention to is Miles Bridges versus sensational Kansas freshman Josh Jackson. If Bridges can get the better of Jackson and help to lock him down with a solid defensive effort, MSU will give itself a chance to score the big upset.
MICHIGAN STATE VS. KANSAS
When: Sunday, 5:15 p.m.
Where: BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
TV / radio: CBS / WJR 760
Seeds / records: No. 9 Michigan State 20-14, No. 1 Kansas 29-4