The Kansas Jayhawks once again reign supreme over the Big 12. Bill Self’s squad captured its 11th Big 12 tournament title to go with its regular-season title with an 81-70 win over West Virginia on Saturday.
If any teams were hoping to see a weakness they could exploit in one of the tournament’s top seeds, this wasn’t the performance to watch. The Jayhawks burned the nets down with a scorching performance from behind the arc, shooting 15-of-27 as a team.
Devonte’ Graham was once again the leader of the Jayhawks’ effort. The senior guard started the game rough but was a catalyst as the team finished the game on a 25-7 run to take the conference title. Kansas beat writer Tom Keegan noted Graham’s second half effort.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and the tournament’s breakout star Malik Newman were also a big reason for the Jayhawks’ torrid shooting night. They chipped in a combined 36 points on 10-of-16 shooting from three-point range.
Matt Galloway of the Topeka Capital-Journal made the case Newman should be considered the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament:
Malik Newman with 15 points and 5-for-7 on 3s. It’s gotta be Newman or Daxter Miles for the tournament’s most outstanding player award, depending on who wins.
Without Udoka Azubuike, Kansas was left short-handed in the post, but Silvio De Sousa showed up big for the Jayhawks, putting up 16 points and 10 rebounds to give the Jayhawks some inside presence.
The loss had to be frustrating for the Mountaineers. They’ve lost three to Kansas this season, blowing double-digit leads in both regular-season losses.
The Mountaineers’ effort was anchored, as it has been all season, by senior guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr.
Miles led the team in points with 25 on 10-of-20 shooting, but it was Carter who was the leader of the team on the floor.
He added to his impressive legacy as a Mountaineer, becoming the 10th all-time scorer in program history while also moving to No. 3 on the all-time steals list, according to the school’s Twitter account:
With 10 points so far, Jevon Carter has moved into 10th place in all-time scoring at WVU, passing Ron Williams who had 1687 points. https://t.co/JbS8rjzBBf
He was also given credit for his ability to come through when Kansas tried to take the momentum early.
That’s twice Carter has answered a big Newman 3 with one of his own. #Kubball had temporarily tied it but WVU jumps back in front with the 3 from Carter. 34-31, WVU. :48.7 to play in the half.
Unfortunately, Carter wasn’t able to keep up with the dynamic offense for a full 40 minutes.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects the Jayhawks as one of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament field. With this win, that distinction should be solidified. Coming back to beat a team of West Virginia’s caliber is exactly what is going to make them one of the favorites to take home the national championship to go along with their Big 12 championship.
The Mountaineers are shaping up to be a No. 4 seed in Lunardi’s estimation. Critical mistakes down the stretch aside, West Virginia showed it should be a tough out as well.