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Monday, February 13, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Devonte’ Graham heats up right on time for Jayhawks

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) hits a three over West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. (4) in overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) hits a three over West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. (4) in overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The fans who turned their backs on the court and headed for the exit ramps as West Virginia led by 14 points with fewer then three minutes remaining, just might have been muttering, “Where have you gone, Devonte’ Graham? It seemed like just yesterday you outplayed the best player in the country.”

Fair question, but those who left were not able to witness Graham’s return to prominence, not to mention a once-in-a-lifetime team comeback. Oh, he came storming back, all right. Did he ever.

On the one-year anniversary of outplaying Oklahoma’s Buddy Held in Norman, Graham’s 3-point shooting and KU’s full-court pressure combined to give the Jayhawks an outrageous comeback victory, 84-80, in overtime Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Graham and almost every teammate were mired in a lousy shooting night and the Mountaineers were on the brink of making the race for the Big 12 title a very crowded one, when coach Bill Self instructed  his players to give WVU a dose of its in-your-face, full-court pressure and Graham decided to take his shot to the outer limits, where defenders wouldn’t think he would dare to shoot. He shot and shot and shot and made and made and made. He shot the lid that had been on KU’s hoop all night into pieces.

Graham scored 14 of his 18 points in the final 6:56 of the 45-minute game.

His 3-pointer with 1:56 left in regulation cut the deficit to six points. His next one from way downtown pulled Kansas within two points with 34 seconds left and he was just heating up. He drew first blood in overtime with another launch from outer limits to put Kansas up, 74-71. His next one gave his team a 79-71 lead with 2:14 left. His was the first name West Virginia coach Bob Huggins mentioned after the game.

“Graham’s killed us the last . . . last year in the conference tournament,” Huggins said. “He’s made shots.”

Huggins was referencing Graham’s 27-point explosion in the Big 12 Tournament title game, an 81-71 KU victory. That came after his 27-point game against Oklahoma. He made a combined 11 of 15 3-pointers in those two big games.

Afterward, Graham was told his big night came on the one-year anniversary of his big night in Norman.

“For real? Wow, I didn’t know that,” Graham said.

His 21 points against Oklahoma State stand as season-high, and before he blew up late in the game against WVU, he had just one field goal. Then, when things got desperate, Graham got hot.

“We needed it,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s our best 3-point shooter off the bounce. You know, he made a heck of a move to make a 3 when he put on a little dribbling show (in overtime). Devonte’ has had a good, solid year, but he’s yet to have a break-out stretch. Hopefully, this will give him the momentum to do that.”

It’s amazing that this night was the start of a possible break-out stretch, given that he made just 1 of his first seven 3-pointers and neither of his 2-pointers.

“The last past couple of games I felt like I really didn’t have anything going, but I didn’t turn it on like that,” Graham said. "The coaches kept telling me to keep shooting. I kept penetrating and getting too deep and found myself not being able to make plays, so I believed in my shot and just let it fly.”

Graham said the players became aware before that Kansas had not lost back-to-back home games during Self’s 14 seasons. In fact, it had not happened since Roy Williams’ first Kansas squad lost four in a row in Big 8 play in 1988-89. 

"We knew it and were definitely thinking about it during the game,” Graham said.

Once the team started using full-court pressure that it hadn’t practiced in a month and started, to use Graham’s words, letting it fly, there was no time to think, no time to do anything but win, which this team does better than it does anything else.

By the Numbers: Kansas 84, West Virginia 80

By the Numbers: Kansas 84, West Virginia 80

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia


Comments

Steve Zimmerman 1 month, 1 week ago

It's unfreakin' believable!! That's one of the best miracle comebacks by HCBS team. Didn't think they got enough energy to counter press WV, plus with poor FG% who would've thought... If our team plays with gutsy performance like this the rest of the season, we'll be a NC contender. This is totally a superb team effort!!

RJ King 1 month, 1 week ago

Who would've thought our win would come via 33 made free throws, a +6 turnover margin, and 16 points off the bench . . . to compensate for 35% FG shooting?

And who would've thought ANYONE not putting a sleepy toddler to bed or escorting out a very elderly parent would EVER leave the FH early???

As annoying as he can be, Dickie V's merciless shaming of the fair-weather fans was spot on. He was standing up for the players who refused to lay down.

Brett McCabe 1 month, 1 week ago

There's a word for it: quitters. I've sat in Memorial, down 35 and watched every last second tick off? What else am I going to do? Get a jump on traffic? This boys deserve better. I, like many, thought the game was over, but I didn't quit watching. Thick and thin, thick and thin.

RCJHK!

Jay Scott 1 month, 1 week ago

.....kinda like those that went to bed before the final outcome on Nov 8...

Tom Jones 1 month, 1 week ago

Nothing at all like that, actually. That competition was close throughout the evening and there was never any indication that it would be anything otherwise. Just another case of you needing to bring up politics. Compensate much?

Not that that excuses anyone that left. You're at Allen Field House, for crying out loud. You probably paid good money for your spot. You don't leave until you KNOW it's over. C'mon, people.

Tom Jones 1 month, 1 week ago

Not at all, troll! Just hangin out on a sports website. ;)

Brett McCabe 1 month, 1 week ago

Ms. Scott, stalk much? Man am I in your head.

Great news on the football stadium front, though. KU has found a way to make Texas pay for the upgrades by increasing the prices on all tickets when we play a home game against a Texas school. It's a brilliant plan, conceived by a brilliant business mind who fully understands economics.

Jay Scott 1 month, 1 week ago

Pretending you have a stalker is just slightly less creepy and pathetic than the imaginary friend routine.. What's with the "Ms" thing? Are you trying to imply that women are inferior with your little insult? Liberals and hypocrisy, like peas and carrots.

Mike Jones 1 month, 1 week ago

The creep is the clown who has nothing to add about the game, thinks his political views mean squat on a post about one of the greatest comebacks in Jayhawk history. Peas and carrots must be what there is between his ears.

Jay Scott 1 month, 1 week ago

You created a new user ID to call someone "the clown who has nothing to add about the game, thinks his political views mean squat on a post about one of the greatest comebacks in Jayhawk history. Peas and carrots must be what there is between his ears." ....and nothing else?

Can't wait for more of your unique genius....I'd wonder whether it's just a new BM user ID but that's even below his level...;)

Mike Kendall 1 month, 1 week ago

This is for RJ King--totally agree--Dickie V is annoying--when I learned he was going to do this game, I let out a huge big moan. But he was totally spot on for the tongue lashing--in regards to the football team, Brett, times are a changing. The football Jayhawks are going to turn it around.

Tony Bandle 1 month, 1 week ago

Odds and Ends from Oakville:

1] To pull that comeback on national television on ESPN Big Monday in front of a national audience, may be the best recruiting job KU will do this year. Trae Young is probably thinking, do I want to play at a football school or do I want to play in Allen before those fans!!

2] Darn, I thought Devonte would come back next season. Not so sure now.

3} I had the pleasure of talking with Dickie V. at the Lawrence Holiday Inn near the turnpike years ago. Off camera, he is a delightful, sharp guy who admitted he's paid to be over the top, but last night his rant against the "leaving earlies" was absolutely perfect.

4] We may not be the best team in America but we have the biggest balls! [please don't cut this..it's a compliment].

5] I'm not sure what the other MVP candidates did yesterday, but Frank left one hell of impression on the country.

6] Baylor is going into their usual end of the season tailspin a little earlier this year, but it will be tough to beat them down there now.

7] Good Old Coach Bill will be coaching K-State football from a gurney before he quits.

8] Maybe we should make a video of the last three minutes and sell it like Kitty State [LOL]

9] I replayed the tape this morning and I still can't believe what I just saw.

10] Do you all realize how loud 130 decibels is??!!!

Mike Kendall 1 month, 1 week ago

130 decibels is quite loud, Tony. I have been to a lot of concerts and that is right up there!

Mike Greer 1 month, 1 week ago

I really wanted to go to bed at 10:00 last night, I really did. But I didn't, and I was so disappointed to see "fans" exiting early like I saw Kentucky fans leaving when they were behind the Jayhawks in Rupp. I thought our fans were better than that. In the overall picture, what's the big rush getting from a 16,000 seat stadium partially filled with students who will walk to the dorms?

For most of the first 37 minutes, I didn't think the Jayhawks could throw the ball into the ocean from a convenient spot on the beach. It was a hard game to watch at that point. Then as quickly as they made the run in the first half, they made a huge run late and although I thought they would run out of time before they matched the score, somehow they pulled it off and Devonté was a huge part of that. Keep it going man!

Randy Glenn 1 month, 1 week ago

Thank You Dick Vitale....there..I said it!! Thanks for being more of a KU fan than some of our own!!

Armen Kurdian 1 month, 1 week ago

When I was a senior, I was Big Jay. I sent Dickie V. a couple of pictures of him & the Jayhawk in the mail with a short letter that I took during pre-game. About 3-4 weeks later a small package appeared in my mailbox. It was an autographed copy of "Time Out Baby" which was his diary of the 1990-91 NCAA season; he wrote, "You are awesome, baby!"

RJ King 1 month, 1 week ago

What a great revelation on all accounts!

Harlan Hobbs 1 month, 1 week ago

Just like the comeback last night, all of the comments today are FANTASTIC, BABY!

Harlan Hobbs 1 month, 1 week ago

I would have said AWESOME, but I don't want to totally plagiarize.

Brett McCabe 1 month, 1 week ago

You've never had an original thought, so why try and start now?

Mike Greer 1 month ago

Talk about a "nasty woman". That was truly uncalled for, unless you think Harlan Hobbs is an alias for Jay Scott. I honestly think you owe Mr. Hobbs an apology.

Vic Janeway 1 month, 1 week ago

I always have the volume down I don't listen to any announcer.

Barry Weiss 1 month, 1 week ago

never ever thought we could win shooting in the 30's... maybe we ought to dust off that press again some time. :)

Harlan Hobbs 1 month ago

Letting your politics get hold of your mouth, huh Brett. Typical liberal.

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