Saturday, December 2, 2017

Devonte’ Graham, Clay Young spark KU past Syracuse

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against Syracuse guard Frank Howard (23) and Syracuse guard Tyus Battle (25) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against Syracuse guard Frank Howard (23) and Syracuse guard Tyus Battle (25) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami.


MIAMI — All the attention was inside. Devonte’ Graham made sure it didn’t stay there very long.

With Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot saddled to the bench with foul trouble in the first half, all eyes were on walk-on Clay Young to see if he could hold his own at the five-spot. Perhaps they should’ve instead been on the electric senior, who erupted for 35 points and five assists in the Jayhawks’ 76-60 win over Syracuse.

Graham’s start to the game was quiet. Early on he was content to facilitate as Lagerald Vick sparked the offense and then Svi Mykhailiuk came to life, putting in eight points in rapid succession.

To that point, Graham’s only points were on a layup off an offensive rebound two minutes into the game. He next point — a free-throw after a Syracuse technical — came with 5:16 to play in the half.

He poured in KU’s next 13 points after that, as the Jayhawks headed to the half up 14.

KU continued to roll into the second half, at one point stretching the lead out to 21. Syracuse began to close the gap, cutting the lead down to seven, but Graham stabilized things, scoring 19 second-half points and setting up an emphatic one-handed Vick slam with a lob from the top of the arc.

Overall, the Jayhawks had three players score in double-figures. Vick finished second on the team with 20 while Mykhailiuk (11) added a late 3 to get over the 10-point mark.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: Clay Young checked in — really.

After Udoka Azubuike picked up two fouls and Mitch Lightfoot was tabbed for his second going for an offensive rebound, Young entered the game and was forced to guard the 7-foot-2 Paschal Chukwu.

Young did his part well, forcing him and Orange big man Sidibe Bourama into a pair of turnovers. The two remained scoreless from the field throughout the entire first half, while the other way the KU offense came to life and pushed the lead out to double-figures.

• Offensive highlight: KU’s early attempts to figure out the zone resulted in several long jumpers, but about three-and-a-half minutes into the game, the Jayhawks perfectly executed on a lob to excite the droves of KU fans in attendance.

Malik Newman had the ball on the wing and swung it to Graham at the top of the key. Graham faked like he was going up for a shot and instead lobbed it to Lagerald Vick, who slammed it in with a ferocious look.

Vick, who struggled shooting the ball last game, was a source of early offense on Saturday, scoring nine of the Jayhawks’ first 11 points. He finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes.

• Defensive highlight: The KU big men didn’t have too many spare fouls to give, so every time the whistle blew inside there was an audible gasp from the pro-KU portion of the crowd. At least twice in the first half, though, that gasp was followed by applause, seeing the referee point toward the other direction.

After picking up his first foul just seconds after checking into the game, Lightfoot actually drew a pair of fouls, twice establishing post position and drawing a charge on a Syracuse player.

Lightfoot would pick up his second but Young took over afterward, setting his feet and adding to KU's charges drawn total with less than two minutes to play in the half.

• Key stat: Young’s first-half minutes were perhaps as important as any player’s in the period.

While Young didn’t tally a single point, rebound, block or steal, his minutes were crucial in the Jayhawks not only hanging around in the first half, but actually extending their lead, too.

Young finished the first half a +13 from the floor, meaning the Jayhawks actually outscored Syracuse 22-9 in his minutes.

Young may have not been the biggest contributor to that total — literally or figuratively — but he helped spark the run with his hard-nosed defensive play and screening and passing offensively, at one point setting up Mykhailiuk for a wide open 3 with a well-exeuted pump fake from the baseline.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will return home — sort of. KU will next face off against Washington Wednesday at 8 p.m. That game will take place at Sprint Center, where the Jayhawks’ 2016-17 season came to an end at the hands of Oregon.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Syracuse

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Syracuse 60

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Syracuse 60


Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

If you had told me before the game that both Udoka and Mitch would have to go the bench with two fouls each with us only up single digits, and then we'd go into halftime up 14, I'd have said you'd sparked one J too many. It's a credit to Clay Young and to our guards, especially Devonte, that we could overcome that.

Also thought it was too good to be true that we were up 21. And it was, b/c Cuse cut it to 7. But again credit to the boys in blue for withstanding the Cuse rally, especially Devonte hitting the shotclock-beating 3-pointer to fend off the SU rally.

This win doesn't take the sting out of 2003, but it feels good to get a win on that classless slimeball Jim Boeheim.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

If I said what I really feel and think about Jim Boeheim, the comment would eventually be replaced by:

This comment was removed by the staff due to violation of the user agreement.

Or something like that...

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 4 years, 9 months ago

does anyone else want to see vick loose again on a steal this year? maybe an under the leg dunk to add to his 360 highlight from last year? just putting it out there.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 9 months ago

Not anytime when Coach Self is coaching his team.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 9 months ago

I'd say, let Graham take shots from now on. 30pts each game from him can really help this team to NC. He can launch 3pt like Harden, crazy step backs. He's got beautiful strokes and lobs, too.

Andy Godwin 4 years, 9 months ago

Heading to the lab to see if we can find something to make Clay grow 5 to 6 inches overnight. When Preston went out, I predicted Clay would get some meaningful minutes (not 12 in a half) since Mitch has been foul prone and most coaches would likely try to get Udoka in foul trouble early. Nice to see a cerebral player like Clay, who is undersize to be a center, show that he has spent his years on the practice squad learning what Self expects. He was consistently in the correct spots on the court when they needed him most. Thanks Clay. The most amazing thing about the game was neither of the announcers even mentioned that a 6'5" walk on was in the game guarding a 7'2" center FOR 12 MINUTES. I appreciate announcers who are not bigger than the game.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't make up for Wilt's NCAA title game against UNC, but nice none the less.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 9 months ago

There are other strong candidates for POTY early in the season, and my guess is that D'tae will continue to encourage his teammates, because he knows that there will be off nights and he needs them strong for the team to reach their goals. Went back to check and schools with back to back POTY are:

61-62 OSU, Jerry Lucas

72-73 UCLA, Bill Walton

74-75 NCState, David Thompson

81-83 Virginia, Ralph Sampson

01-02 Duke, Battier & Jay Williams

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm surprised that only one time on that list were the back to back POTYs different players.

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