I could recap this game with two words: Devonte’ Graham. I’ll write more than that, but if you want to know what happened in Lubbock on Saturday, those two words are all you need to know.
There’s plenty of storylines to discuss. Kansas won the game 74-72, clinching at least a share of a 14th straight Big 12 title, passing UCLA for the most all-time. The Jayhawks also gave Texas Tech its first home loss of the season, and Bill Self continues his streak of never being swept by a Big 12 opponent during the regular season.
All of this happened because Graham put on one of the best individual performances from a Jayhawk in recent memory. The point guard scored 26 points on 10-18 shooting (18 in the second half), while dishing out four assists (it felt like more), and grabbing three rebounds. Anytime Kansas needed a basket in the second half, Graham delivered.
The Jayhawks got off to a hot start, opening the game on an 8-0 run before Tech answered to cut the lead to 10-7. Kansas was at one point up double figures in the first half, as KU shot 59 percent from the field and hit seven threes, but that lead dwindled to four at halftime.
Kansas cooled off to start the second half but then Devonte’ Graham took over, hitting a three that put the Jayhawks up 60-52 with eight minutes remaining. Tech kept clawing back, eventually tying the game at 68 with 2:16 left. But that would be the closest the Red Raiders would get. Graham knocked down a long jumper with a little more than a minute left to give Kansas a 70-68 lead. Tech turned it over on the next possession, allowing Devonte’ to seal the Red Raiders’ fate. Graham hit a ridiculous circus layup to extend the lead to four, and after a Svi free throw, Devonte’ hit one of two free throws in the final seconds to ensure Kansas’ win.
Texas Tech did what it does well, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, including a couple that were immediately turned into Zhaire Smith (who led the Red Raiders with 20 points) put-back dunks. But Kansas did enough to hold on, shooting 50% against the best defense in the league, and draining 11 of 25 3-pointers.
Graham stole the show, but the first half belonged to Svi, who had 15 points at the break and ended with 21. Malik Newman was the only other Jayhawk in double figures (12), although Udoka Azubuike made his presence felt on defense with seven rebounds and three blocks to go with six points. Meanwhile, Keenan Evans still looked hobbled by that toe injury, scoring just six points on 1-6 shooting—although grabbing six boards—while senior Justin Gray left the game after the first possession, receiving a concussion on an Azubuike screen.
Kansas will now look to claim the Big 12 outright at 8 p.m. Monday against Texas on senior night. Devonte’ and Svi will take the court in Allen Fieldhouse for the final time as Graham looks to build his case for Big 12 Player of the Year.