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Kansas defeats West Virginia, 81-71

  • 5 p.m., March 12, 2016
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dual champs: Devonté Graham pushes KU to Big 12 postseason title

The Kansas Jayhawks celebrate with the Big 12 Tournament trophy following their 81-71 win over West Virginia, Saturday, March 12, 2016 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The Kansas Jayhawks celebrate with the Big 12 Tournament trophy following their 81-71 win over West Virginia, Saturday, March 12, 2016 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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— Several hundred fans seated behind the basket chanted, “MVP, MVP,” at Kansas University sophomore guard Devonté Graham as he stepped to the free-throw line with 1:33 left in the Jayhawks’ 81-71 Big 12 Championship victory over West Virginia on Saturday in Sprint Center.

“That’s crazy. It’s a good feeling,” Graham said after the people’s choice indeed was named tourney most valuable player after scoring a career-high-tying 27 points with four steals, five rebounds, three assists and three turnovers against the Mountaineers’ pesky full-court press.

“I don’t really think about things like that (during the game). I just try to play hard, play my heart out,” added Graham, who hit five threes in six tries and went 10-of-10 from the foul line.

His performance helped the Jayhawks improve to 30-4 overall (West Virginia fell to 26-8) and most assuredly grab the No. 1 overall seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament entering Selection Sunday.

“He’s playing at such a high confidence level,” coach Bill Self said of the 6-foot-2 native of Raleigh, N.C. “His attitude is just a 10 and it’s rubbed off on others. I love his personality as much as any kid we’ve ever had,” Self added

Graham showed his colorful personality during the post-game awards ceremony. He was handed a bucket of confetti by a tourney worker and, with the support of his teammates, crept behind Self and dumped the debris on his coach’s head.

“It wasn’t water. The guys wouldn’t do that to me on the court,” Self said with a smile, noting he didn’t mind having to brush confetti off his suit-coat shoulder. 

“I am proud of these guys. Nobody else in the league can wear a hat that says ‘Big 12 Championship’ because we won the regular season and conference tournament. I think that’s good for our guys.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Self, Graham and Selden discuss KU's Big 12 postseason title

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, and Jayhawks Devonté Graham and Wayne Selden Jr., answer questions from the media following KU's Big 12 title game victory over West Virginia.

Download podcast

One person in the stands wearing Graham’s World University Games jersey No. 4 wasn’t surprised Devonté took the lead in the confetti dumping prank.

That would be Graham’s mom, Dewanna King, who attended along with Devonté’s sister, Shamaria, and his grandmother, Doris.

“I saw him do that. We’ve got it on film. He’s silly. He’s the class clown,” Dewanna said, smiling.

“I would say I’m one of the biggest kids on the team even though I’m 21 now. Me and Jamari (Traylor, one point, one rebound, three turnovers, 12 minutes) are two of the biggest clowns. I enjoy doing stuff like that,” Graham said.

On a serious note, mom never doubted Graham, a former Appalachian State commit, could play at this high major level.

“He’s had it in him a long time,” Dewanna said. “I think a lot of the world just now is getting to see it. When I drove in here on Thursday, one of the coach’s wives said, ‘Do you remember what you told me in Maui (at Maui Invitational in which KU went 3-0)?’ She told me my son had a good game in Maui. I said, ‘You haven’t seen him yet,’’’ King exclaimed.

Self sure wouldn’t mind if Graham’s family members somehow find their way into the stands for KU’s upcoming NCAA Tournament games. 

“It seems to me he plays better when his mom is in town,” Self stated.

Graham hit two threes in an 11-2 run that gave the Jayhawks a 51-39 lead with 14 minutes left. He nearly matched West Virginia’s Devin Williams point for point, Williams scoring 31 points with 10 rebounds.

“Devin had a great game, congratulations to him,” Graham said. “Lando (Landen Lucas, six points, seven boards) was down in the first half (after Williams’ 18-point effort). We kept trying to talk to him, tell him he’s one of the biggest pieces on our team. We need him. He got a big and-one and hit some big free throws for us (two of two),” Graham added.

Also, Graham said he was “proud of Frank (Mason III, who had four points, seven assists playing 38 minutes on a sore left foot; he suffered a bad bruise in Friday’s semifinal win over Baylor). This time of year nobody is 100 percent healthy. You will have to fight through injuries and put your heart out for the team like he did.”

Graham was joined on the all-tourney team by KU’s Perry Ellis (17 points, five boards), West Virginia’s Williams, Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield.

“It’s special. I’m grateful for it. There are so many good players in the conference. For me to win it is a big deal. I will remember it forever,” Graham said.

He was more impressed with the fact his team won the Big 12 postseason tourney title after winning the regular-season crown.

“It’s huge,” Graham said. “We won conference outright and winning the conference tournament shows it wasn’t a fluke or somebody else should have won it. We did what we did for a reason,” he added.

The Selection Sunday show, in which KU will be assigned its seed, regional site and opening opponent, will be 4:30 p.m., on CBS.

— See what people were saying about the Big 12 title game during KUsports.com’s live coverage


More news and notes from KU’s Big 12 postseason crown





By the Numbers: Kansas 81, West Virginia 71

By the Numbers: Kansas 81, West Virginia 71

Comments

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

Well done, Jayhawks! 20-win seasons don't mean jack-squat, but 30-win seasons like this one are something special. Enjoy this moment as much as you can, but get ready for the next task at hand.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

Feed me all the crow you want. I was wrong about Self.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Bryce, this was me just being a smart a$$. I wasn't even thinking about you when I posted the above line.

I apologize if that is how it was perceived.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

I was responding to Joe Ross. I had my webpage up so long without refreshing that I didn't see your comment until after I had posted my response to him. I can't take offense to what I don't see; and even if I had seen it, I wouldn't have taken offense to it.

Jay Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Kudos to Bryce for being man enough to own his comments and admit his error.

Mike Riches 3 years, 8 months ago

Gold medal: Done

12th Straight: Done

Win Conference Tourney: Done

National Champions: Let's do this!!

Rock Chalk!!

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 8 months ago

Not that they were major objectives like the Big 12, you can toss in the Maui Invitational and a 30 win season.

Every-time this team has had an opportunity to cut down the nets, they did it!. One more net remains for a clean sweep.

Think about it, this team has defeated the best entire countries could offer...Canada, Chile, Serbia, Lithuania, Russia, and Germany.

It this teams wins the NCAA Tournament, coupled with the Gold WUG, Big 12 Title for 12 straight, Big 12 Tournament, +30 wins, it will go down as the greatest KU team ever.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Graham was headed to Appalachian State,

Mason was headed to James Mason,

Lucas and Traylor weren't anywhere near the top 100

And yet these players form the nucleus of one of the best teams to play at Kansas. Not the most talented team but a true team that depends on each other. What other coach could have put these pieces together and have so much success?

Self definitely deserves AP National Coach of the Year. 30 wins, Conference Champions, Big 12 Tournament Champions and overall number one seed in the NCAA.

Let's finish this season the right way - with the #4 NCAA Championship

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 8 months ago

To Joe .....I get where you are coming from .That was the battle cry early in the season especially after the OK. STATE game .Bills style of coaching his impatience at times when mistakes are made ,the quick hook. The second guessing of why Lucas is getting minutes and why Greene wasn't run out of town after " the dunk " .Not giving in to public opinion on why Diallo wasn't playing . His stubbornness sticking with his guys at times shortening his bench when the game called for it. Trusting his players when it was time to pick the 5 position when the team was struggling , He would get in Perrys face when he had to and yell like a madman at the team when they weren't playing well. But then we saw the other side of Self .....the love he showed his players when they did a good job....but he always would express need for improvement even after a blowout win. But when he got emotional when Jamari gave his senior day speech that said something about the man HCBS. Youre right Joe ,he should be fired .....

Rock Chalk

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 8 months ago

Winning is a great feeling , This has been a magical year it started in Korea and hasn't stopped yet ,this train has a final destination in Houston ,This team has been a joy to watch they are having fun and winning at the same time, We are not a one man gang....we are a team that has trust and more importantly developed an unselfishness that permeates the team , making that extra pass every man knowing his role, We have players on the bench that would start or get major minutes at other programs but winning right now and having fun doing it is great, We are always worried about whose staying and whose going all I know is who we have right now, 3 DOWN ........1 TO GO

ROCK CHALK

Tony Bandle 3 years, 8 months ago

Mallory, I totally get where you are coming from, but let's hope the players are looking at it as 6 TO GO, ONE AT A TIME :) !

Doug Wallace 3 years, 8 months ago

Good game KU!

Too bad that Jackoff Bowlsby has to ruin that picture!

Jared Reeves 3 years, 8 months ago

I have been critical of Bill Self on more than one occasion, and rightfully so. Bill Self is far from perfect. But that does not mean Self isn't a great coach. For a while this team looked like the exact same team as last year, with zero improvement. But as the Big 12 season went along, this team started playing better and better. The improvement of Graham and Lucas in particular have been a difference maker.

Now the real season begins. RCJH!

Mike Greer 3 years, 8 months ago

". . . far from perfect." He's 368 & 81 at KU, no that's not perfect, but who would you say is currently coaching college basketball that's significantly better, since coach Self is far from perfect? He's one of three active coaches that have taken 3 teams to the elete eight and I'd pick coach Self over the other two any day.

If you want to be critical, offer a better option. No other coach has coached his team to 12 straight conference titles. I know you want NCs, but you have to get to the tournament to win, and he, unlike some other coaches has done that every year. He may not coach the way you would, but he's the one with the proven track record.

Jared Reeves 3 years, 8 months ago

Mike,

Self is a great coach, as I already said, but he isn't the only great coach in the game of basketball. I am sorry if you are unaware of the other great coaches in the game, but I don't feel like providing a list at this point.

Jay Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Where did Mike say he was unaware of other coaches? He simply asked who you thought was better. No suggestions? Hopefully you can respond more intelligently in a courtroom.

You're making yourself look even more stupid than usual.

Mike Greer 3 years, 8 months ago

Seriously, you think the list of better coaches than Bill Self is so long you don't have the time to enlighten us. Just active coaches, I'm not interested in resurrecting the dead.

I think Travis Ford may be available.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

But that isn't what you said Jared. You weren't comparing HCBS to other coaches, instead you were justifying some of the remarks you made in the past.

This team never looked like last year's, we were 11-1 going into conference play. Other than one bad stretch where we went 5-3, we were clearly the best team in the Big 12. We won our conference by two games and have gone 14 straight since our last loss.

You stated "I have been critical of Bill Self on more than one occasion, and rightfully so.", do you have any examples where you are rightfully criticizing Bill Self?

Jay Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

"I have been critical of Bill Self on more than one occasion, and rightfully so."

Really Jared? "Rightfully so"?

Share for us your Chicken Little logic. Tell us about the times where you had a different strategy than Self and you were proven correct. Tell us about all the ideas you had that turned out to be better than Coach Self's.

When did your criticism and your long term vision prove superior over the long haul?

What you've proven over and over, is that you know essentially nothing. What you prove with today's garbage is that you lack the maturity to just shut up when you're proven wrong.

Jay Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Seriously? Is that the best you infantile Chicken Littles can do? Last week you were pretending to be my mom? Now a fake profile?

It has to suck to be that pathetic.

At least with all those ID's you can like yourself a lot better. A social suggestion. Liking posts is similar to sex. It's best not to do it for yourself in public.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for being a good sport, Bryce. Even when we offer a little criticism, I think it is mostly because we care so much about the Jayhawks. At Manhattan right now, they don't seem to care enough to even criticize.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

Fan apathy will get a coach canned quicker than fan passion.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 8 months ago

The very reasons Bill's shortcomings are listed, [has one National Championnship, should have had two or three, has two Final Fours, should have had four or five], are actual indicators of accomplishment when compared to the vast majority of Division One coaches.

Also, maybe a .500 total record against the sum of games played against Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina whereby many other teams would get clobbered.

The obvious ones, #12, NCAA appearance strreak, Home court win streak, 3 losses in nine seasons at Allen, Maui and WUG titles, etc.

The good news this March, we are relatively healthy and, as far as I know. totally eligible so we can go into the tourney with all guns ablazing.

[ PS Coach, just a small favor...if our opponent is pressing, please make sure that Brannen and Jamari are on the bench cheering! Thank You.]

Mike Greer 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to see Brannen on the floor every time the other team goes into auto-foul mode. He's a bit careless with the pass but we really need his free throws.

Janet Olin 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to see Greene on the bench except for emergency scoring droughts when his trey is essential (other players can and do shoot threes). He also shoots a high percentage of free throws. Other than that, he is a walking turn-over and a liability.

Debbie Mangen 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't follow every post so excuse me if I am repeating anyone else's thought. Does this year's team remind you of the 2008 National Champions team? A rather business like minded team who had their own little breakdown about mid-season. Frank Mason, a serious all business guard like Russell Robinson. The always smiling hot shooter, Devonte Graham, just like Mario Chalmers; the tough, chest-thumping big guy, Jamari Traylor as Darnell Jackson. Selden could fill the role of Brandon Rush or Darrell Arthur and don;t forget Sasha Kaun played by Landon Lucas, both great rebounders and blocking out! Ever present Cole Aldrich played very well by Perry Ellis. All year they have reminded me of that team and I hope they continue to do so. They are always focused on the next game; not one down the road. We can't leave out their great bench, Morningstar, Reed, crowd favorites. Let's continue to support our Hawks on their run in the NCAA tourney!

Mick Allen 3 years, 8 months ago

Marius, Frank was headed to Towson, not George Mason.

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