Unprecedented: Jayhawks top Texas Tech, surpass UCLA's conference title streak

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas head coach Bill Self walk arm in arm down the hallway to the locker room following the Jayhawks' 74-72 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Lubbock, Texas — Want to know what it takes to win the Big 12 Conference 14 times in a row?

Just watch the final few minutes of Saturday's 74-72 victory by No. 8 Kansas over No. 6 Texas Tech inside a wild and crazy United Supermarkets Arena and you'll see a clear blueprint.

The sequence featured equal parts toughness and clutch plays from KU seniors Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, poise and raw emotion from everyone in crimson and blue and a road win in a tough environment that led to Bill Self's squad officially moving past the UCLA dynasty of the 1960s and '70s and into first place in the NCAA record books for consecutive conference titles, with 14.

“I'm amazed. I really am,” Self said after the victory. “I'm happy for everybody, but certainly most happy for Devonte' and Svi, our two seniors that definitely put us on their back most of the season but certainly today.”

Saturday's victory, during which KU shot 50 percent from the floor and 44 percent from 3-point range, guaranteed the Jayhawks a share of this season's Big 12 crown. A win in either of its next two games, or losses by Texas Tech and West Virginia, will give KU the title outright.

Getting to that point has been a memorable journey for the Jayhawks, both way back in the beginning of the unprecedented streak with the 2004-05 team and at the end of Saturday's game, which featured Graham willing the 2017-18 Jayhawks to victory.

Texas Tech (22-7, 10-6) never led in this one but came awfully close a couple of times down the stretch.

After a follow-dunk by Tech's Zhaire Smith tied the game at 68-all — erasing a second-half lead of as many as eight points just two minutes earlier — the stage was set for Graham to take over and he did exactly that.

Playing every bit like the Big 12 player of the year, the KU point guard's late-game heroics merely were a continuation of what he had done all afternoon on the way to a game-high 26 points in 40 minutes.

“Down the stretch, there was no doubt that that game belonged to No. 4,” Self said. “Probably as much as any game that I can remember him playing in.”

Related document

Box score: Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72 ( .PDF )

Graham credited his coach for instilling confidence in the entire team throughout the afternoon.

“In the huddle, he just said, 'This is what we want. If you would've told us we'd be tied with a minute left, we would sell out for that. And now it's time for players to make plays,'” Graham recalled.

There were exactly nine possessions in Saturday's final 152 seconds and they played out like this:

• After a missed 3-pointer by Svi Mykhailiuk (21 points, five rebounds, four assists) and a layup by Graham that was blocked by Tech's Zhaire Smith, Graham's step-back jumper that just beat the shot clock put Kansas back in front with 1:30 to play.

• Looking to tie, the Red Raiders got tied up right in front of their bench and turned the ball over when Graham twice poked the ball away from Jarrett Culver and into the arms of teammate Lagerald Vick, who got on the floor to gather the loose ball and gain possession for Kansas.

• With everyone in the building knowing who would get the ball for Kansas, Graham drove to the rim, one-on-three, and threw up a circus shot that somehow fell through after bouncing off of the rim and backboard a couple of times. Graham, Self and teammate Malik Newman all called the shot some variation of luck after the game. But none of them minded one bit at the time it fell through and Kansas' lead grew to four with 31 seconds remaining.

• Feeling now-or-never pressure, Tech again turned it over on its next possession when Jarrett Culver was called for a travel.

• That set the stage for Graham and Mykhailiuk to sink two of four free throws in the final 20 seconds to give Kansas just enough to get by. At one point, with just under two minutes to play, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard and his staff were instructing their players to purposely foul KU big man Udoka Azubuike. But the Red Raiders never did and the Hack-a-Dok strategy that worked for Oklahoma was never tested.

Two incredible offensive plays followed by two terrific defensive possessions — “It's unbelievable. We played zone to win the game,” Self noted — made it possible for the Jayhawks (23-6 overall, 12-4 Big 12) to talk all about Big 12 title No. 14 after the game. And Graham did all of his talking with a shiny, new white hat on his head that marked the achievement.

“I felt like this year was the year everybody thought we were going to lose it and, as a team, we've just been battling, staying positive with each other, going through the grind and now we made history,” Graham said.

Asked what it meant to be responsible for passing UCLA, KU's perpetual team-first point guard remained as humble as ever.

“For me, it's just being a part of it, being a part of something so historic,” he said. “It's big for the fans. It's bigger for them. I'm just a small part of it. I won four of them, out of the 14, so it's just being a part of history and me and my boy (Mykhailiuk) are a part of it.”

For Self, the experience was slightly different. After all, he remembers those UCLA teams.

“That's one that's a little tougher to put into perspective,” said Self, who yelled, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' while pumping his fist after the final horn sounded. “I don't think we've had (former UCLA greats Lew) Alcindor and (Bill) Walton and Marques Johnson and some of those cats. But we've had our fair share of guys. This one will probably ring home more because we probably didn't have the best personnel in the hardest year to win the league, from a competitive standpoint We didn't have the worst, but I'm just saying the pieces didn't always fit the way we envisioned.”

That may have been the case for most of the season. But of late, the Jayhawks have come together perhaps better than at any point all year and have positioned themselves to do very Kansas-like things in the weeks ahead — Big 12 champs, No. 1 seed, all that.

That reality was not lost on Graham after Saturday's victory, the second this week in which KU avenged an earlier loss.

“It's just what we wanted to do, what every player has done before us the last 13 years,” said Graham. “We didn't want to be the team to end the streak and we didn't want to be the first two (players) to go four years without winning all four rings.”


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas Tech


By the Numbers: Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72.

By the Numbers: Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72.

Comments

Bryce Landon

Two weeks ago, after Kansas got clowned by Baylor, and we dropped in the Big 12 standings to second place, I made the comments you see in the screenshot below, predicting the end of the streak and ripping the Jayhawks for having no willpower.

Two weeks later, it might be the most ignorant and foolish thing I have ever said on this website.

Because this motley crew of Jayhawks DID get it together and win the Big 12. And the streak DID continue to the record-breaking mark of 14. And the players DID show a massive amount of willpower today, none more so than Devonte Graham. That Bill Self was able to get another conference title out of such a short-handed team, with no Dwight Coleby, no Carlton Bragg, and no Billy Preston, and the fact that he has gotten 23 wins out of team lacking in manpower, stands as one of his best coaching jobs over the course of a season.

So, fellow Jayhawk basketball fans, as you celebrate #14, feel free to mock me for my foolishness from two weeks ago. I am as deserving of your mockery as Devonte Graham & Co. are deserving of being Big 12 champions.

http://www2.kusports.com/users/photos...

5 months, 4 weeks ago

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Garry Wright

I've noted that there were quite a few Jayhawk fans who had given up hope. I wasn't one of them, but I'm glad that you are able to apologize for your hasty remarks. That's a whole lot better than having to hear you say, "I told you so!" I think you are quite happy as well to be able to apologize.

5 months, 4 weeks ago

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Steve Zimmerman

You deserve a high-five from another fan! This team deserves the 14th trophy. They've done it with heart and guts and soul. Unexpected, doubtful. It's a surprise to a fan like me, too, but what an awesome feeling!! I remember we won B12 with Ellis, Lucas, with 0 stars but 110% effort each game.

5 months, 4 weeks ago

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Allan Olson

Your forgiven. Now we should hear from stoned motor mouth and West Coast everything guru Bill Walton. That clown always fails to mention that his old PAC 8 conference was virtually devoid of any, even decent teams, in the 60s and 70s. All threats to those many NCAA titles came from well to the East of the Rockies. Conference of Champions my ass!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bryce Landon

Everything you have to say on these boards is always shaming others for daring to say anything less than glowing about the Kansas Jayhawks. That shows YOUR true colors in real life, which is "angry bitch with nothing better to do than shame people who says things she doesn't like". I suppose you'd be the type who supports the socialist college students who shout down conservative speakers at on-campus forums? Are you part of "Antifa" when not vilifying fellow Kansas basketball fans? I'd tell you to get off your broom, but you probably ride a vacuum cleaner because no broom could bear up under you.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Kyle Neuer

You didn't know Evans was going to mess his toe up, either.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Mike Riches

Congratulations to this team and all the incredible players and teams that have contributed to this unprecedented feat! And congratulations to the coaches and staff that have brought them here! It's a great day to be a Jayhawk!! Rock Chalk!!

5 months, 4 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Bryce - Rather than coming on here to see you chomping on feathers (hat tip for admitting your mistake again) it would be so much nicer if you would learn from history by not quitting on the team and staying positive. The alternative is not a pretty sight.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Kit Duncan

I fully expect KU to win the last two games, considering they have to keep alive Bill Self’s record of not being swept by a Big XII opponent in a season. That said, how incredible would it be if they were to only win one of two, fulfilling Self’s prophecy that a team with five losses would be able to win the conference outright!

Bill Self is a truly remarkable coach who fully understands what it takes to win when it comes to competing in the Big XII. I believe he also knows what it takes to win a National Championship. The NCAA tournament is not always about coaching, however. It’s often decided by seeding (matchups) as well as variables beyond a coach’s control. Witness how many free throws were missed today by players on both teams who are usually more consistent. Such misses can completely undermine a coach’s strategy and cost a team the game.

Great win today! Congratulations to the Big XII Champion Jayhawks!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Len Shaffer

During my 5 years as a student at KU, they didn't win a SINGLE conference championship. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a streak like this. Truly remarkable.

And I think that performance by Devonte' not only earned him Big XII player of the year but a decent shot at first team All-American. (And BTW, how funny is it that Trae Young, who just a month ago was a shoo-in for the Wooden Award, not only won't win national player of the year but likely won't even win conference player of the year?)

One other award that should have been clinched today: Bill Self for national coach of the year.

Now let's hope that KU does one very UN-Kansas thing in the tournament and gets at least to the Final Four. (Yes, I know we've been to 14 of them, but only 2 during Self's time. It's definitely time for another one.)

Until this game, I never thought KU had shown itself to be worthy of a 1 seed. Now I think they're deserving.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Andy Godwin

Congratulations Jayhawks - Rock Chalk championship. Thank you seniors! In the words of Bill Self, “I am amazed”. I had predicted the season would be a bumpy ride and with uncharacteristic blowout home losses, that the streak might come to an end. Once the final nail dropped when a top 10 talent never played a minute, this team just didn’t look like they had “enough”. I think even Self had his doubt - a team with no lottery picks, a really thin bench, no true #4, etc., etc. yet Devonte and Svi proved most of the pundents wrong, including me, who continually picked the “field against KU”. Now make senior night really, really special and send Devonte, Svi, and Clay off in Jayhawk style - as sole Big 12 Champions! Thank you Svi, thank you Devonte, and thank you to a very special head coach. I should know by now, just believe in Self. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go Fight Win.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bill Kiekel

Best post about #14 ! Thanks Andy. Rock Chalk Jayhawk

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Championship basketball begins with the head coach....and our coach is the very best in the country and deserves more credit than he has gotten in my opinion....GREAT JOB BILL ON ANOTHER GREAT SEASON!!! The senior leadership that has been displayed late in the season has made all the difference..,so lets all enjoy Monday nights game and really appreciate what Devonte Grahams' and Svi Mykhailiuks' contributions have meant to the success of this years championship team and lets send them out the right way...lets make their last game in the field house unforgettable!...WINNERS AND TRUE CHAMPIONS!!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Mike Tackett

Count me among the doubters. Sorry. What a run. Just maybe this is another '8' year? Congrats to all the boys and as usual great coaching.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Armen Kurdian

I'll say what I said before, that talent-wise, KU isn't where it has been in recent years, other Big XII teams were very good, and I didn't fault them for not being the best, and showing they were one-dimensional in that if we didn't hit a lot of threes, we could never win any games.

What this team is proving is not necessarily that they are the best team in the country or even in the Big XII per se, but that they are finishing games. When it gets down to it, they are making the other teams, good players, make mistakes, miss shots, and have just a little bit more in the tank to put a team away. And they're showing it over and over again.

We might well be deserving of a #1 seed, when you take everyone else's record and performance into account. We have the best coach in Division I, period. We've got a set of players that due to circumstances are really starting to play so well as a team and so fluid that they could in fact go very deep next month. They have gotten better faster than other teams. They are making me really love to watch them too.

I'd love to see eleven more wins in a row to finish the season!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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John Brazelton

It's time to win out and take the Big 12 Championship with no pretenders along.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Titus Canby

To put #14 in perspective, does anyone remember the big deal made in KC about the Chiefs winning the western division for 2 straight years? The first time in the 60+ year history of the franchise that they've done that. In a 4-team division. And we've won 14 in a row. In a 10 (and at times 12) team conference.

Thank you Jayhawks. I'm proud of you.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brian Skelly

To me, the turning point was the game in Morgantown. Any doubts had prior to that game in my mind were justifiable. We just hadn't shown the toughness or tenacity most Self coached teams had prior to that. A lot of that was the roster makeup, and dealing with the "Is or isn't he" with Preston. While the roster is still thin, I think once we cut the cord from Preston there was a bit of "this is who we are, lets go figure it out." going on.

Best part is, they figured it out. And now were doing it again. Credit to Graham and Svi for playing like the Seniors they are to pull this out.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Joe Ross

Now that the Conference Championship is in the bag, Kansas is playing with house money, in a sense. They've met the minimum expectation for a team that is shallow on depth in the post and has wrestled at times with guard play that has been under par (Vick, Newman). They've risen above their challenges and coalesced into a team that remarkably has not only extended the school's string of conference wins, but broken the NCAA record in the process. With the pressure off now (because even playing well, most pundits won't have Kansas winning a title). They can get out of their heads and just focus on playing.

With that in mind, the question of how to utilize Silvio DeSousa is a pressing one. Again, since the title is sewn up, I would think Bill Self is now free to play DeSousa in games, earning him valuable playing time in the remaining two games and in the conference tournament to bring him into better standing to be reliable in March Madness. If we lose due to our post play and if Silvio is the culprit, then the team mentality should not suffer owing to an understanding about why he must be played. Win or lose with DeSousa in an expanded role, improvement and comfort level will follow him, with the hope being that he becomes reliable enough to play in March.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Nice post Joe.....Now...loose and free in March...but with super high energy....we win on Monday and Silvio..Cunliffe and co. will get lots of floor time in Stillwater.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Armen Kurdian

That's a great point, give De Souza & Cunliffe more playing time, that could be supremely valuable.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Harlan Hobbs

As just fans, most of us have no idea what it takes to be this successful for so long. It takes a commitment and drive to reach for excellence that is almost unparalleled.

There are so many intangibles involved, and we can be excused for jumping on and off the band wagon at times given our naivete. That's not a knock on anyone because all of us want the same thing, and we all bask a little in the glory even though we have little or nothing to do with the teams' success.

Lastly, I love the two pictures of Coach Self with Devonte and Svi following the game. He is clearly ecstatic, and you just have to know that he is beaming with pride over their accomplishments. He is clearly wrapped up in his joy for them.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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David Robinett

https://www.cbssports.com/college-bas...

Nice props from CBS writer

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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David Robinett

“...you should try to appreciate what Kansas has pulled off here because it's not going to happen again with any other program so long as you and I both shall live. ”

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Mike Greer

Perhaps not one of the greatest teams Coach has had but to quote a poster I recall, "Kansas Basketball, players change, expectations don't." And for 14 seasons now, neither have results. Even if the conference wasn't as good as it is, this is a tremendous accomplishment, given all the things that can happen with recruiting, guys leaving early for the NBA, injuries, and other miscellaneous maladies like your top recruit never getting into a game. Not to belittle the accomplishment of UCLA, but that was a different time in college basketball. No other team in college basketball is even remotely close to the streak of 14 consecutive championships during the time KU has made such an impressive run.

With the guys expected to either return or become eligible next season, and the great recruiting class for next season, number 15 looks well within reach. Whatever the streak ends at, and it will someday end, we will likely never see such dominance as this again. It takes a Hall of Fame coach, to get this level of play and commitment from his players year after year. Congratulations Coach, you and your staff have done a tremendous job, Rock Chalk!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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