KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Devonte Graham ripped off the shooting sleeve he was wearing and tossed it into the crowd, then took the two-time Big 12 defensive player of the year baseline for a pullup jumper. Talk about unflappable. Unstoppable, too. The league's player of the year finished with 18 points and 13 assists, most of them during the decisive second half, and Graham led ninth-ranked Kansas to an 81-70 victory over Jevon Carter and No. 18 West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament championship game Saturday night.
Malik Newman added 20 points on his way to tournament MVP, and freshman Silvio De Sousa had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting in place of injured big man Udoka Azubuike, lifting the Jayhawks (27-7) to their 11th tournament title and a likely Number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It was the second time in three years they've beaten West Virginia (24-10) for the championship.
"We just locked on and starting plays and kept competing, and it was just fun. It was fun to be out there," Graham said with a smile. "It helped that we were able to make shots." Modest understatement there. The Jayhawks shot 72 percent from the field in the second half, and 56 percent for the game, while going 15 of 27 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Udoka Azubuike will be evaluated again Sunday, and Self expressed hope that he would be ready for the Jayhawks' NCAA Tournament opener. The 7-foot sophomore hurt a ligament in his left knee during practice Tuesday, but he appeared to be moving well with a brace on before the game.
Kansas got a big lift from De Sousa, who joined the team after graduating from high school in December. The 6-foot-9 forward grew by leaps and bounds during his time at Sprint Center, making the Jayhawks an even scarier proposition in next week's NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia and Kansas head home to rest before Selection Sunday. The Big 12 could get anywhere from five to nine teams into the dance, with the Jayhawks a likely Number. 1 seed.