Kansas wins Big 12 Tournament with 81-71 victory over West Virginia

Much like every West Virginia game, this one wasn’t pretty. Kansas had two large scoring droughts throughout the game, but found a way to beat the West Virginia press and come out with the 81-71 victory.

Kansas didn’t score for the first 4:30 and found themselves quickly down 10-5, but came back by hitting three of their first five threes and took an 11-10 lead with just under 12 minutes to go in the half. 

We’ve been saying all year that this team will go as far as Wayne Selden takes them, but  it seems Devonte’ Graham is now that guy. He’s been so hot lately that I expect him to make his threes even more than Brannen Greene. 

Both teams had an abundance of turnovers, with a combined 18 in the first 13 minutes. Surprisingly, West Virginia turned it over more (10) than Kansas (eight). 

The three-point shot was working for the Jayhawks, and this game was a perfect example of why KU should shoot early and often. They played terribly to start the game, yet found themselves up thanks to the three. Then the Mountaineers fought their way back with a flurry of dunks, and a 11-3 West Virginia run halted the Jayhawks momentum and tied the game at 24. 

Both teams traded buckets for the rest of the first half, as Kansas left plenty of points on the floor in missed layups. The Jayhawks would break the press and get to the basket, but couldn’t convert once they got there, missing (by my count) seven chances at the rim.

The game went into halftime with West Virginia leading 34-33. 

Even with their trouble at the rim, the biggest problem the Jayhawks faced in the first half was finding someone to guard Devin Williams. He went 7/7 from the floor in the first half and 4/6 from the free throw line.

Kansas came out on a 5-0 run to begin the half and dealt with Williams by double-teaming him. Taking a 51-39 lead on back-to-back Graham threes, it seemed like the Jayhawks had finally figured out West Virginia.

That’s when the Jayhawks offense went stagnant. They went from 9:27 to 3:45 without making a field goal and allowed the Mountaineers to get within four points with three minutes to play. Williams continued his dominance, finishing with a career-high 31 points.

A three by Wayne Selden pushed the Jayhawks lead to eight when the fouling began, and Kansas made the most of their trips to the line, earning a 81-71 win. 

STATS

  • Devonte’ Graham: 27 points (6/10 FG), including 5/6 from three and 10/10 from the free throw line. Also had five rebounds, three assists and four steals.
  • Wayne Selden: 21 points (8/13 FG) with 3/5 three point shooting, four rebounds, a steal and an assist.
  • Perry Ellis: 17 points (5/11 FG), five rebounds and a block.
  • Landen Lucas: six points (2/2 FG), seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.
  • Frank Mason: four points (2/8 FG), seven assists and three rebounds.
  • Brannen Greene: three points (1/1 FG) and two assists.
  • Carlton Bragg: two points (1/2 FG), two rebounds and a block.
  • Jamari Traylor: one point (1/2 FT), a rebound and an assist.
  • Both teams had 20 turnovers, and Kansas won the free throw battle, going 22/25 compared to WVU’s 17/24.
  • West Virginia had 14 steals to Kansas’ 7.
  • This is the Jayhawks tenth Big 12 Tournament championship. All other teams have ten combined.

SPECIAL: January tweets!

Dylan King

Staff writer for Rock Chalk Blog. http://twitter.com/_DK22