Devonte’ Graham scored 27 points and helped keep Buddy Hield in check as No. 6 Kansas completed a sweep of the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday with a 76-72 win in Norman.
Hield finished with 24 points on the night, but he did not hit a shot in the first half. That cold shooting played a major role in the 13-point hole that the Sooners dug for themselves, and Graham was the guy that did the majority of the work on Hield in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was a different story, as Hield got on a role and knocked down five threes, each one seemingly bigger than the next. With 30 seconds left and the Sooners down 73-71, Hield was fouled off the ball by Graham. He was shooting 90.2 percent from the free throw line on the season entering the day and had missed just 12 free throws all season long, but he missed the second. Kansas would make their free throws down the stretch, and after a missed three from Isaiah Cousins, the Jayhawks were able to head back to Lawrence with the win.
There are two things to take out of this win for the Jayhawks.
The biggest is that this, once again, makes them the favorite to win the Big 12 regular season title. They’re tied with West Virginia for first place in the regular season standings, a game in front of Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas. The Jayhawks still have plenty of work to do, but falling a game off the pace when Oklahoma has the easier schedule down the stretch would not have been ideal.
But the other side of this is how Kansas won.
The knock on the Jayhawks this season is that they don’t have a star. There is no go-to guy on the roster, which can be a problem when it comes time for someone to take over.
The flip-side, however, is that with an assortment of weapons means that Bill Self has a number of players on his roster that can win a game for him. Perry Ellis is their leading scorer. Frank Mason is their toughest player and the guy that can best break down a defense. Wayne Selden looked like an all-american earlier this season and, against Kentucky, appeared to step forward into the go-to guy role; he scored 33 points in that game. Even Landen Lucas played the role of hero, grabbing 16 points and blocking four shots in the win over West Virginia during the week.
But on Saturday, it was Graham that took over. Those 27 points were not only his career-high, but he hit the two biggest shots of his career down the stretch: a three to tie the game at 69 with two minutes left and a three to take a 73-71 lead with just over a minute left.