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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Holy Toledo! Devonte’ Graham was on his game Tuesday

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) high fives Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) after feeding him a pass for a dunk during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. Graham finished with a career-high, 35 points.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) high fives Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) after feeding him a pass for a dunk during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. Graham finished with a career-high, 35 points.

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He plays at such high speeds and so often flings creative passes on the fly that Devonte’ Graham is bound to make more turnovers than the average guard. Graham really slammed his foot on the accelerator Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse with Toledo in town.

On his fanciest play of the night, Graham whipped a left-handed bounce pass through a small window to set up Malik Newman for a layup and made other daring passes during his 30 minutes on the floor. And not once did he turn the ball over, his first mistake-free game of the season.

“I did know that,” Graham said of his turnover-free night. “I always ask how many turnovers I have throughout the course of a game. That’s one thing I do ask about. I don’t really ask about points.”

He didn’t have to ask to know that he had a lot of points to help Kansas leave Toledo in the dust, 96-58.

Graham headed to the bench for the final time to an ovation with 8:03 left. At the moment the senior guard’s night ended, the score was Graham 35, Toledo 35, Graham’s teammates 51.

Graham complemented his career scoring night with five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 30 minutes.

He made 3-pointers from the left wing and right and from the top of the key. He scored on drives with his left hand and right, pulled up in the lane to drop one in. He also received plaudits from coach Bill Self for doing a better job defensively on Tre’Shaun Fletcher than Lagerald Vick had done.

In short, Graham did about everything a guard can do to both drive an opposing coach crazy and drive that coach to talk about how much respect he has for his game.

Graham left Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk shaking his head and wondering what it would be like to have a point guard with so much enthusiasm, natural leadership and confidence carrying a fast team to victory night after night.

“Just how he’s transitioned to playing the point,” was the first thing Kowalczyk said about what impressed him about Graham. “Obviously, we couldn’t stop him. In their ball screens, if you help too much they just throw it up to the big fellow and he dunks everything. If you don’t help enough, he’s just going over the top of Justin Roberts and Marreon Jackson, our guards. He’s got such a good pace to him and understanding of this game. I don’t know if it was the Oakland game, but he came down in transition and threw it behind his head knowing that there would be someone there for a wide-open 3. His plays like that, he makes them consistently. I would venture to guess he’s a pleasure to coach.”

Kansas coach Bill Self wouldn’t argue that point.

“He shot it great and handled it great,” Self said. “He underthrew (Udoka Azubuike) a little bit on the lob to start the second half, and overthrew him on a lob that should have been a dunk in the first half. But other than that, he was a 10. He tried his butt off offensively also. He was good. … He’s been really good all year, he just hadn’t shot it as well.”

Graham figures if he continues to play in-your-face basketball everything will fall into place, including his shots.

“I told Malik (Newman) that my shot was going to be good, I had been shooting the ball well,” Graham said. “I just wanted to come out being aggressive. My shots were falling, so I just kept attacking off the pick-and-roll and my guys did a good job of find me for open threes.”

And he hit most of them, improving his season 3-point percentage from .333 to .361.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Toledo


By the Numbers: Kansas 96, Toledo 58

By the Numbers: Kansas 96, Toledo 58

Comments

Bryce Landon 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Devonte could have gone for 40 if Self hadn't pulled him out so soon, but pulling him out was the right thing to do. No point in risking injury to our star point guard in a blowout.

By the way, I had a wild dream last night that Kansas won the national championship.

Pius Waldman 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Dilly Dilly Great success so far now we get to play the better teams. Does everyone agree that Graham needs to be more selfish and shoot more. More like Westbrook plays. During crunch time name another player that would be a better shooter.

Creg Bohrer 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Not too selfish though. The unselfishness is what makes this team tick..

Shannon Gustafson 2 weeks, 1 day ago

That depends a lot on how he's shooting. If it's like last night, sure. If it's like any of the other games this season, give it to the hot hand(s), notably Svi, Vick, and Newman who are shooting at a high percentage thus far.

Andy Godwin 2 weeks, 1 day ago

What stood at most during the game was that the majority of shots (excluding the last 10 minutes) were taken in rhythm and without any pressure. The stroke of Devonte, Svi, and Malik were silky smooth. They played fast but relaxed. This is what Self preaches, side to side, push the pace, create open shots. Other than Malik now and then taking questionable shots which leads to a short stent on the bench, the team since the Kentucky game has not forced too many bad shots. Will be interesting to see during the next few games how consistent their shots will be with more height to shoot over - "he’s just going over the top of Justin Roberts and Marreon Jackson, our guards". Syracuse is big at all positions. Nevertheless, best half of basketball I have witnessed in person.

Steve Zimmerman 2 weeks ago

My advice is do not stop seeking for improvement. Graham is expected to deliver 8-10 assists per game. His scoring will come naturally when the game is tight. I'd rather see him consistently feeding the others - make the others alert that they will have to finish the basket. They have to know where the ball is going to be fed, communicate with each other, the same goes for D. This exercises team cohesiveness and this team will be very very hard to beat once they play together like that.

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