During KU’s 71-66 win against West Virginia in Morgantown, Devonte’ Graham proved he’s exactly what this Kansas team needs to win.
During much of this season, fans have been doubting Devonte’ Graham’s toughness and ability to lead. He didn’t seem to be living up to high preseason expectations and was constantly being compared to Frank Mason.
Mason was an undersized attacking guard that made a habit of putting the Jayhawks on his back and carrying them to victories. Many critics didn’t think Graham could do what Mason routinely did last year. He just didn’t seem to have the it factor.
On Monday night in Morgantown, Graham proved those doubters wrong, playing all 40 minutes and leading KU to a win in the toughest road test they’ll face all year.
It wasn’t the first time Graham had pushed the Jayhawks to a victory this season. He scored 35 points against a tough Syracuse team in an early December win. However, this performance just felt different.
Graham willed the Jayhawks to a second-half comeback after being down by 13 points at halftime. The result was the Jayhawks’ best win of the season and one of the best wins by any team this year.
He made big play after big play down the stretch. One of the most impactful came late in the second half when he caused Jevon Carter to pick up a fourth foul on a fast break. That resulted in West Virginia taking its best player off the court, and Carter wasn’t as aggressive when he checked back in later in the game.
Graham’s play seemed to inspire his teammates, and the Jayhawks went on to win a game that looked like could end in a blowout during much of the first half. Fellow senior Svi Mykhailiuk also played a huge role in the win, scoring 17 points and making all four of his free throw attempts late in the game.
One of the defining moments of the game came when Svi lost his dribble out of bounds resulting in a KU turnover and a TV timeout. During that timeout, Graham became more vocal in the huddle and lifted him up. From that point on, both Svi and Graham took over and finished the game off.
It’s that type of leadership that many have been wanting from Graham the entire season, and in the biggest moment, he delivered. There is no doubt that this was Graham’s best performance of the season and one of the best of his career.