“It showed us just how good we can be when we play together, tough.” – Devonte’ Graham on his team’s resilience and chipping away at the 16-point deficit at the half #KUbball pic.twitter.com/IJwSm2SBHp
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) January 16, 2018
Trailing by 16 points twice in the first half, the 10th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks started to play with a resolve.
Some might argue that they started to beat the No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers at their own game.
Kansas came all the way back Monday with a strong defensive effort and timely shooting from Sky Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham to take down West Virginia, 71-66.
As a result, the Jayhawks (15-3, 5-1) assumed sole possession of first place in the Big 12, all while breaking a three-game road losing streak to West Virginia (15-3, 4-2) in Morgantown.
A big play came with less than eight minutes left, with Kansas still down by 10. Graham went to the basket to score, drawing a fourth foul on West Virginia’s best player, Jevon Carter.
As Carter went to the bench, Graham made the free throw to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to seven.
By the time West Virginia was able to get Carter back onto the floor three minutes later, Kansas had the momentum and soon took the lead.
“I feel like when he’s in the game, their offense flow way better,” Graham told ESPN. ‘He create and make plays for others. He’s just an offensive threat. Without him in in the game, they really struggled, and we kind of made a run.”
In the end, Mykhailiuk and Graham carried the Jayhawks down the stretch, combining for 26 points in the second half, when Kansas outscored West Virginia 43-25.
Defensively, Kansas held West Virginia to 10 for 28 percent and 1 for 13 on threes after intermission.
On Saturday, both teams get back into action, with the Jayhawks hosting the Baylor Bears, while West Virginia hosts Texas.