TULSA, Okla. -- With the game still yo-yoing back and forth, Michigan State's Alvin Ellis III glided to the rim from the wing for what appeared to be an uncontested layup. Then Josh Jackson came flying in from the weak side and swatted the layup attempt off the glass, leading to a transition Kansas 3-pointer the other way.
All-American point guard Frank Mason III, who delivered another stellar floor game Sunday in Kansas' 90-70 win over the Spartans at the BOK Center, is a big reason the top-seeded Jayhawks are heading to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City next week.
But the way Jackson dazzled this weekend in Tulsa, with an array of NBA-like moves at both ends of the floor, showed why the Jayhawks seem primed to advance much further.
After scoring 17 in Kansas' tournament opener, Jackson delivered one of the best all-around performances of his career Sunday against the Spartans, whom he grew up cheering for and nearly joined before signing with the Jayhawks.
He poured in a game-high 23 points, including a pair of second-half 3s that helped put Michigan State away. He also had two blocks and two steals while outshining the Spartans' core of talented freshmen. And he delivered the exclamation point dagger with a driving, one-handed jam down the middle of the lane.
It has been a difficult past few weeks for Jackson, who was suspended by Kansas coach Bill Self for the Jayhawks' Big 12 tournament opener in the wake of a December confrontation with a women's basketball player.
But Jackson is back on the floor and playing the best basketball of his career, which is why the Jayhawks will head to Kansas City looking like a team ready for a much deeper run.