Devonte’ Graham puts the rest of the conference on notice and gets revenge against West Virginia.
With a disastrous first half, it looked like Devonte’ Graham would graduate with unfinished business against West Virginia. But with his grandma in the stands, Graham channeled his inner Frank Mason to will the Jayhawks to victory. KU has always played ugly on the road against the Mountaineers but finally found a way to close the gap and snap the four-year skid.
With discussions around breaking the Big 12 Championship streak growing, the Jayhawks proved their staying power in a venue that has recently been a house of horrors. Svi Mykhailiuk poured in 12 points in the final seven minutes as he ignited from three, proving he was also determined to end his career in Morgantown on a high note.
The Jayhawks climbed out of their largest deficit of the season, drawing critical fouls on Jevon Carter in the second half to allow Devonte’ Graham to go to work. Even with Sagaba Konate destroying the rim and blocking shots, KU continued to attack and played their best defensive game. The Mountaineers could have realistically lead by more after forcing early turnovers but instead saw the turnover battle shift out of their favor in the second half, and KU capitalized on those errors.
With Silvio De Sousa finally in action and showing promise in limited minutes, the once-wavering Jayhawks are again in control for number 14. A team that has often rightfully earned a soft reputation, KU went into hostile territory and emerged with the W on a night that they were out-played for the majority of the contest. A signature win for this team, this critical road test is sure to set the tone for the rest of league play.
The Jayhawks have shown the ability to fight off a late-game surge from Kansas State over the weekend and the fortitude to complete their own comeback last night. Being able to win on the road without playing close to their best basketball, Kansas shows that sustained excellence is not simply having more talent that the opponent. The Jayhawks are hitting their mental stride at a crucial tipping point of the season. Championships are not won in mid-January, but the foundation for success in the conference and beyond is built when shots are not falling but the effort to succeed is unmatched. With senior leadership blossoming and reinforcements in the front court, Beware of the Phog once again.