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Kansas defeats West Virginia, 81-70

  • 5 p.m., March 10, 2018
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Freshman Silvio De Sousa irreplaceable as KU tops WVU in Big 12 title game

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) hoists the Big 12 trophy following the JayhawksÕ 81-70 win over the Mountaineers in the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament, Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) hoists the Big 12 trophy following the JayhawksÕ 81-70 win over the Mountaineers in the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament, Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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Kansas City, Mo. — You know you had a big night when the man who was named the most outstanding player of the tournament your team just won said he would give you the MVP trophy if he could.

That was the reality for high school standout-turned-key Kansas Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa on Saturday night, moments after his 16-point, 10-rebound double-double helped the top-seeded Jayhawks capture the Big 12 tournament crown at Sprint Center with an 81-70 victory over third-seeded and 18th-ranked West Virginia.

Seated in front of his locker with the net draped around his neck, KU sophomore Malik Newman, who torched that very same net for 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range in Saturday's victory, gushed about the KU freshman who fought toe-to-toe with West Virginia big man Sagaba Konate, outdoing him in overall production in five fewer minutes.

“If I could, I would give him the award,” said Newman, whom KU coach Bill Self called “an All-American type guard this weekend” after watching Newman hit 20 points for the third game in a row. “But he was the runner-up in my eyes.”

For that, De Sousa, who started the second half of Saturday's victory and played a career-best 26 minutes, received two extra pieces of the net that Newman was wearing.

Consider it a party favor from one suddenly exploding Jayhawk to another.

Asked to put a number, on a scale of 1 to 10, on where De Sousa started the weekend and where he ended it, Newman said: “I think he went from a 5 to a 12. I mean, I think he played great. Without Silvio, I don't think we win tonight.”

Asked to grade his own growth, from the slow start to the season to the moment he tossed that net around his neck, Newman again chose to praise De Sousa.

“I started off low,” he said. “I mean real low. But I think I'm somewhere up there with Silvio. At least I hope I am. He played incredible this weekend.”

De Sousa proved so valuable in this one that Self, when talking about his freshman's monster night after the win, gave his young power forward the Devonte' Graham treatment.

“We couldn't take him out,” Self said.

The reason? His numbers had something to do with it. But it was more the way he played that made De Sousa so valuable. And that came as a direct response to a challenge from Self at halftime.

“He called me soft,” De Sousa said of Self. “He said, 'You're playing soft right now.' And I just took that as motivation to play even harder.”

After the game, Self was singing a slightly different tune.

“I think he just said, 'Silvio, you're a stud,'” De Sousa said. “And I think I agree with him and I proved to him that I can play in the second half.”

Konate also provided a little motivation for De Sousa, who did his best to keep up with the West Virginia big man in the scoring column, on the glass and in the trash talk game.

“I usually don't talk that much on the court,” said De Sousa, who also showed more outward emotion because of how badly he wanted to win this one for his teammates. “But today I had to. I wanted this game tonight so bad and I had to talk my stuff. … And I think I won the trash talk battle.”

De Sousa was far from the only Jayhawk who contributed to Saturday's victory. Newman's timely shots were as clutch on Saturday as they were all weekend. For the tournament, the sophomore from Jackson, Miss., tallied 72 points (24 per game) on 15-of-22 shooting from 3-point range.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self and All-Big 12 tournament performers Malik Newman and Devonte' Graham on KU's 2018 title

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, as well as All-Big 12 tournament honorees Malik Newman and Devonte' Graham, explain how the Jayhawks emerged from a heated conference title game as 81-70 victors over West Virginia.

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Graham added 18 points and 13 assists (giving him 30 for the weekend) in 40 minutes. Svi Mykhailiuk hit 4 of 8 3-point shots for the second night in a row to log 16 points. And Lagerald Vick dropped in 10 points and five rebounds in 35 minutes. Outside of the five Jayhawks who reached double digits in scoring on Saturday, Kansas (27-7) got just one more point — a free throw from Marcus Garrett.

It hardly mattered. Despite trailing the Mountaineers (24-10) for more than half the game for the third time this season, the Jayhawks delivered when it mattered most, using two separate 10-0 runs to erase big WVU leads and pull them back from the brink of watching the game get away from them.

Graham, as you might've guessed, was a big reason for both runs, setting up teammates to perfection during one of them and knocking in 2 of his 3 3-pointers on the night in the other.

“When we went down eight, that's when Devonte' took over,” Self said.

And in doing so, he turned a 51-43 deficit into a 53-51 Kansas lead.

The Jayhawks' lead eventually grew to as many as seven on another Graham 3-pointer with 3:57 to play. And, from there, as the Sprint Center crowd roared and the Mountaineers clanged shots and ultimately conceded, the two daggers were as fitting as they come.

The first, on offense, was an alley-oop pass from Vick to Mykhailiuk that featured Self screaming at Vick to slow the ball down and, in the same breath, changing his tune to yell, 'Yeah!' after Mykhailiuk flushed the dunk.

The second, on defense, came from Newman, who darted in front of a lazy WVU pass with just more than a minute to play and put an end to any idea of a West Virginia comeback.

“We haven't had the best run of luck here of late,” Self said. “And with Dok (Azubuike) going down (with a knee injury on Tuesday), (we wondered) can we even win without Dok? Not only did we prove we can win without him, we proved we can play at a really high level. Today was probably as high a level as we've played at in a long time.”

So high of a level, in fact, that Self called it the best Big 12 tournament game he's been a part of since that thrilling victory over Texas in the 2008 title game.

“I loved the game,” Self said. “Even if we hadn't won, I would've loved coaching in that game because I thought we competed our butts off. And I thought they did too.”

No one illustrated that better than De Sousa, who entered the weekend as a question mark and a dim beacon of hope for a team with Final Four aspirations.

As he took the scissors from Mykhailiuk and made his climb up the ladder to get a start on that net on which Newman snipped the finishing touches, De Sousa looked like a bona fide star. The KU band chanted, “Sil-Vi-O, Sil-Vi-O,” and the 6-foot-9 forward from Angola stood tall, raised his first piece of net high into the air and smiled like a man on top of the world.

“For a player that just came out of high school three months ago to be able to cut the nets for the Big 12 championship is a great feeling,” De Sousa said. “I can't describe it.”

By the Numbers: Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

By the Numbers: Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

Comments

Bryce Landon 4 months, 1 week ago

Sagaba Konate is a thug who talks a lot of trash for a guy on a team that hasn't won anything that mattered since its Big East days. Even as a KU victory became increasingly apparent, according to Matt Tait's Twitter feed, he was getting off F-bombs at KU fans. He would have been a perfect fit with Iowa State.

The Jayhawks, on the other hand, didn't talk trash; they disposed of it. And they let the scoreboard do the talking for them.

Hey Sagaba - you can run your punk-ass mouth and F-bomb the fans all you want, but guess what: You and your guys in mineshaft blue lost to Kansas not once, not twice, but three times in one year. Scoreboard, Sagaba, look up at it and cry like the little bitch that you are.

I wonder if Thuggy Bear told his players that it wasn't their fault they lost like he did in Allen Fieldhouse. Free throws weren't an excuse this time; his guys went 10/10 and we went 4/8. We're just better than you, end of story. Better luck next year.

Titus Canby 4 months ago

I've seen his TV show: Sabado Gigante

Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 1 week ago

Can't wait to watch both DeSousa and Doka at the same time. Now that we know what our team can do... here's to marching all the way to SanAntonio!!

Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

Next seasons rotation:

CENTER: Dok, Lightfoot, McCormack.

POWER FORWARD: Silvio, Lawson,

WING: Vick, Lawson,

SHOOTING GUARD: Grimes, Cunliffe, Kansas City kid. or by some miracle Langford.

POINT GUARD: Moore, Dotson, Garrett

Tyler Gross 4 months, 1 week ago

Honestly I think if Malik comes back vick wont really see much playing time, hes convinced me that hes just not got the effort this team needs, Id much rather see Garrett get vicks playing time. This would be a sick starting roster with 5 Doke 4 D lawson 3 Grimes 2 Malik 1 Dotson, Garrett and Moore Guard rotates, Mccormack and silvio big man rotates. If Malik does come back which i think he will, i dont think there is any signs hes going to even get drafted, then we will be a seriously deep team next year. I think vick is talented but I just dont see him fitting in with next years team, cuz 1 thing is for sure, Dotson grimes and Malik will all get major playing time, and That means vick wont get much playing time, and my honest opinion is Garrett is a much better 6th man. So vick will be in a no mans land sorta..going to be interesting. Now if Malik leaves for NBA, that changes a lot and I think vick will then have to get major minutes.

Jay Scott 4 months ago

You think a frosh starts at PG over a redshirt Soph and a Soph that played in crunch time? You haven't been watching Bill Self coach.

Tyler Gross 4 months ago

I think the better player will play, I'm not 100% which that will be, but I think dotson is going to be a complete monster. If you have watched bill self coach then you will know that He wont start a redshirt soph over a freshman if the freshman is better.

Chris DeWeese 4 months, 1 week ago

Newman will be back. He's seen how it has benefited both Mason and Graham. B12 POY for the third straight year?

Jay Scott 4 months, 1 week ago

Mitch isn't a center. He's a 4 or even a 3 1/2. Starters? Garrett at PG. Dok at Center, Dedric at PF... 2 and 3? Who knows?

Drew Doerfler 4 months ago

add newman and subtract Vick......i don't think Newman will be leaving...he's not on any of the draft boards for this year or even next year. Yes he is playing amazingly, but he is an undersized shooting guard in the NBA without the elite athleticism. If he comes back and shows some point guard skills and a full year of playing like he has, then he could be a first round pic. Look at Devonte. He is a first team all-american and he is barely hanging on in the second round this year. IT's all about potential, size, and athleticism in the nba. Vick just doesn't really seem to fit into the team next year. If he comes back, i don't think he will see much of the court. But no matter what happens, that is one heck of a deep and talented team at every position. Dare i say the deepest and most talented team that i can remember? that is a legit 13 deep of talent!

Kyle Neuer 4 months ago

Newman may test the waters, but I expect he'll be back. Cunliffe has shown me nothing all year and I expect him to be odd man out

Shannon Gustafson 4 months ago

If Newman continues his new "tournament" play for the rest of the season (shooting lights out, scoring 20+) and we make a deep run then he's gone. Otherwise I think he'll test the waters but ultimately come back to fill the one hole next year's team has (a guard that can shoot consistently from range) and try to do what Mason and Graham did the last two years by coming back.

I wouldn't be shocked if a Freshman is the starting PG next year but I could see it being Moore as well, if Malik or Langford are available to play the shooting guard spot. Self has indicated Moore is more of a undersized scorer than a true PG but that's what Frank was coming in as well and that turned out OK. I'd be surprised if Garrett was the starting PG but it's possible, and that is what he played in HS (while being the center defensively!).

Mike Kendall 4 months, 1 week ago

Man, I can't stop thinking San Antonio---as soon as I say that, just hope we don't run into a brick wall at the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. These guys have a ton of confidence right now---that's a good thing, right? ROCK CHALK!

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

We should all thank Mitch for his bonehead foul shortly after Silvio's ignoble first 2 minutes. That first glimpse on Thursday looked a lot like his other appearances; the ones that had him sitting down for the remainder of the previous games. If Mitch would have played smart, Coach wouldn't have felt forced to give Silvio another chance. Man did he grow from there until -

“He called me soft,” De Sousa said of Self. “He said, 'You're playing soft right now.' And I just took that as motivation to play even harder.”

You know you've arrived when Coach takes the time to call you soft, and Silvio responded the way that so many Jayhawk greats responded before him

Rock Chalk!

Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 1 week ago

I remember this article: http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/tale-tait/2018/jan/15/a-deeper-look-at-silvio-de-sousas-ku-deb/

Spot on, Mr. Tait. DeSousa's presence at the post really bothers WVU. He has solid defensive position. This kid gets it. Just look at how smooth he rolls after setting screens. Something Mitch doesn't get yet. Mitch tends to turn away from the baller instead of facing him after setting screen. He doesn't slip his body quicker, either. DeSousa is a natural. He will only get better. We're so lucky he joined our team and matured at the right time.

Clarence Haynes 4 months, 1 week ago

No doubt that HuggyBear’s strategy was to try to intimidate KU’s “soft” players. Konate was mouthing off and Miles Jr’s had his stare--downs after delivering many of his barrage of threes was part of the HuggyBear plan. Graham after Konate’s bump at the beginning and Silvio holding his own in his discourse with SaggyBoo, we’re having nothing with that mindset and vernacular! So tough we’re the Jayhawks, perimeter players shot the lights out (as só noted by the Mountaineers during the post game presser) and Silvio gets a double double! A classic game with a little bit of everything plus another trophy for the ‘Hawks! i never get tired of it!

Gerry Butler 4 months, 1 week ago

  • -Had me a little worried. - -I don't know if anyone else seen it or not BUT at the end of the half when the players were walking off the court Silvio threw a forearm or pushed or hard brush against Konate. - -Konate crying like a little B - - - - that he is to the official and the official kind of acknowledging - I'm not sure what took place - -I'm sure Konate was running his mouth something of that nature but I though oh crap I hope he doesn't get himself in trouble. - I just can't grasp how the hell this guy Konate gets away with some of his actions on the court. - - He cries and moans every time he gets a foul called on him - - - His actions when he blocks a shot is in the same area the officials T'D Doke up for a power flush- - - he stomps on the floor yelling at fans - main while Huggy just continues to let him demonstrate these kind of actions. - -This jerk is total classless

Kyle Neuer 4 months ago

He may be "classless", but we haven't had any luck dunking on him all year. Vick, especially, and Svi and Garrett have all wound up on their butts without a foul call when they've tried. If he were ours, we'd love him.

Shannon Gustafson 4 months ago

We would love him if he was ours, but he'd also be a different player since Self wouldn't allow him to be such a D-bag on the court. You've seen what Self has done to Dok every time he's got in trouble for lesser offenses.

Gary McCullough 4 months ago

If a freshman is held back from playing his first year, he's referred to as a red shirt freshman the next year. So what do you call a freshman who is playing college ball when he's still supposed to be in high school? A blue shirt freshman. ;)

Harlan Hobbs 4 months ago

Love the chemistry. Malik was clearly the MVP of the tournament, but he deflected that honor by praising Silvio constantly. That does wonders for a team's morale, and there is no better master at building morale and team chemistry than Coach Self and his staff. I can't recall a single time when dissension appeared to be part of the program.

On the other hand, WVU doesn't have it. They hoot and holler when things go good, but when things turn a little sour, they immediately begin complaining about a call or lack thereof. Also, in one their last timeouts, one of their players, perhaps Miles, was barking at Konate.

WVU's biggest problem is that they don't finish games. Again last night, they played one way for a little over 30 minutes, and then in the last 7 to 8 minutes, their offensive approach changed. They began relying on two guys to basically pump up 3's, and the game got away from them.

KU moves the ball and tries to get everyone involved in the offense. It is obviously much more effective.

If KU can keep their momentum and confidence flowing, they have as good a shot as anyone at getting to San Antonio, assuming that Udoka will be able to play and Silvio can keep on his rapid rise. Hard to imagine to imagine that Malik can keep up his torrid shooting, but if he does, "Katy bar the door."

Michael Sillman 4 months ago

I am as excited as everyone else regarding the emergence of De Sousa in this tournament. He appears to have even more upside than Azubuike when you watch his solid mechanics at the free throw line. However this game just like all the others came down to hitting 3 point shots. Clearly if we have an off night we’ll go home early from the Madness. If we stay hot, the Final Four is not out of the question.

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