Monday, April 24, 2017

Graham lifts Kansas past WVU to win Big 12 Championship

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives past WVU's Tarik Phillip (12) on Saturday, March 12, 2016) (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham (4) drives past WVU’s Tarik Phillip (12) on Saturday, March 12, 2016)
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.–West Virginia’s goal of winning the Phillips Big 12 Championship fell one win short on Saturday night.

Devonte’ Graham scored a career-high 27 points and No.1-seeded Kansas defeated the second-seeded Mountaineers 81-71 in front of an electric Sprint Center crowd.

Devin Williams put it all on the line, scoring 31 points and grabbing 10 boards. He was the only WVU player in double-figure scoring.

Wayne Selden Jr. had 21 points for the Jayhawks and Perry Ellis added 17.

Both WVU and Kansas had 20 turnovers apiece.

The Mountaineers shot 46 percent from the field and made just 2-of-15 from 3-point range. WVU made 14-of-24 from the line but missed clutch free throws down the stretch.

The Jayhawks shot 52 percent from the floor and went nine for 15 from 3.

Kansas trailed the Mountaineers at the break but came out flying in the second half. Graham hit five 3-pointers and was perfect from the foul line.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound sophomore guard drained a 3 14 seconds into the half. Selden and Frank Mason III hit jumpers to give the Jayhawks 40-34 lead with 18:11 to play.

WVU found itself in foul trouble and the Mountaineers couldn’t buy a basket.

Devin Williams (41) takes a shot in warmups on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Sprint Center. (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

Devin Williams (41) takes a shot in warmups on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Sprint Center.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

“You know, we had all year — if Jevon Carter didn’t make shots, Daxter Miles did,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “And when those two didn’t make shots, Jaysean and Paige did. But nobody made them today. There wasn’t one guy that we could run things for or get away to when they were trying to help so much on our inside guys. But, I mean, for the majority of the year, we’ve had somebody make some, we just didn’t have anybody today.”

Trailing by nine, WVU went on a 5-0 run and made it a 67-63 contest with 4:09 left after Williams finished the three-point play, but that was as close as the Mountaineers would get.

WVU started the game with a 6-0 run powered by a dunk and two jump shots from Williams.

Graham drained a 3-pointer to end the run and start a back-and-forth half.

Elijah Macon made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining in the first half and WVU led 34-33 at halftime.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives past WVU's Jonathan Holton (1) and Tarik Phillip (12) on Saturday, March 12, 2016.  (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham (4) drives past WVU’s Jonathan Holton (1) and Tarik Phillip (12) on Saturday, March 12, 2016.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

“Yeah, but today I felt like we played, we played well,” Graham said. “We weren’t making — we weren’t finishing around the basket. I felt like the energy was okay the first half, but we just couldn’t finish things that we would usually make. And I thought we played with good energy throughout the whole game.”

Williams earned his 15th double-double of the season. His 31 points were a school record for total points in a Big 12 Championship game. Jevon Carter┬áset the previous record in Friday night’s win over Oklahoma.

Kansas won the Big 12 Championship for the 10th time. The Jayhawks have won more conference championships than any other school in the Big 12.

WVU will wait until Selection Sunday to find out its next opponent.

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