Senior Night Special: Jayhawks cruise to win over Texas, clinch outright Big 12 title

The Jayhawks come together with the Big 12 conference championship trophy following their 80-70 win over Texas on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. The win gave the Jayhawks an outright win of their 14th-straight Big 12 Conference title.

There were plenty of key moments, big shots and momentum-changing buckets during Monday's Big Monday showdown with visiting Texas at Allen Fieldhouse.

After a scrap-it-out, 80-70 victory that gave sixth-ranked Kansas its 18th outright Big 12 title in 22 seasons, however, the only moment that really mattered was when the 14 glistening Big 12 championship trophies were lined up on the east side of James Naismith Court.

Such a scene has become commonplace around this time of year at Allen Fieldhouse, though they might have had to add a table or two during the past few seasons.

And with Texas big man Mo Bamba sidelined with a toe injury, the Jayhawks (24-6 overall, 13-4 Big 12) made darn sure that the tradition would continue, scoring a whopping 52 points in the paint and controlling the game from start to finish.

Appropriately, it was the three KU seniors who got things off on the right note.

Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Clay Young, who started the first game of his career in place of Lagerald Vick, factored in on the Jayhawks' first 11 points and 23 of their first 27 to help the Jayhawks build a 27-13 lead that never was truly threatened. Texas trimmed the lead to six at one point in the second half, but Graham and Mykhailiuk, along with sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, refused to let the Longhorns get any closer.

With Bamba out of the way, Azubuike dominated down low, scoring 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting, and added eight rebounds and five blocks to his big night.

At one point in the second half, the Longhorns (17-13, 7-10) became so preoccupied with stopping Azubuike that they doubled him in the post and did not come off of him even after he flipped a quick pass to Marcus Garrett under the basket.

Garrett, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals and was the unsung hero of Senior Night, had time to bobble the ball, gather himself and still go up for the uncontested layup while two Texas defenders stayed glued to Azubuike along the baseline.

In the end, though, it was the 27 combined points, 13 combined assists and championship-or-bust leadership of Graham and Mykhailiuk that led the Jayhawks to Monday's victory and yet another Big 12 title.

“They say a team is only as good as your seniors,” said KU coach Bill Self while introducing the guests of honor. “Well, there's a reason why we're league champs. We've got great seniors.”

Related document

Box score: Kansas 80, Texas 70 ( .PDF )

That was on display all night. From Mykhailiuk's silky smooth 7-of-11 shooting night, including three more 3-pointers, to Graham's classic line that included more assists (11) than points (10), the dynamic duo did its thing one more time in front of the Allen Fieldhouse fans and their families, saving the best for last with their mix of comedy and raw emotion during their senior speeches.

“I'm really thankful and blessed to be a part of this program, this university, and it's great to make history with this group,” Mykhailiuk said.

From there, he thanked his family and broke down, bending over at the waist with tears in his eyes while telling a story of his father going to practices with his old team back home to feel close to his son, who was becoming a star in America.

“I don't know if we've coached a sweeter kid or a young man who has improved as much as him,” Self said of the player who inspired one sign that read “Svinior Night.” “And it's been so fun to watch him during his senior year when he actually believed that he was the baddest man on the floor.”

And then there was Graham, making good on his prediction that he would in fact cry, breaking down three or four different times during his speech.

The first time came when he thanked Self.

“Coach Self, I don't even know where to start, man,” Graham said. “Everybody talks about how I'm such a good leader (towel goes over his head, head tips back, tears flow freely), man this dude has done so much for me in my career here. I want you to know I just love you. … I'm a good leader because of you.”

During this exchange, Self let his emotions be shown, too, smiling, voice cracking and tearing up at various parts of Graham’s speech.

The second time came at the end — just as he had promised, saving his family for last.

“To my mom, my grandma and my sister, I love you all to death,” Graham said.

Graham going last was probably about as fitting as his home finale. Sure, he hit a couple of 3-pointers, and, yeah, his fancy drop pass to Mitch Lightfoot in transition for an easy dunk wowed the crowd.

But both Self and Graham summed up what he has meant to KU and what KU has meant to him during those brief moments on the floor.

“People talk all the time about stats, how many did you get tonight, what's your shooting percentage, how many rebounds did you get,” Self began. “This dude, there's only one stat that matters and that's that your team has more points than your opponent.”

Added Graham, in his final words, before heading back to the locker room: “To all the fans, for all the tweets and all the Snapchats, I love you all to death. Thank you for an amazing four years. Rock Chalk.”





More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas


By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Texas 70.

By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Texas 70.

Comments

Mike Riches

Every Senior Night is special, but there's just something about these guys...

Thank you for four years of celebration, of winning, of becoming great men, and of being great champions!

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Steve Zimmerman

It's hard to watch these guys' speeches without tears - I really enjoy watching these seniors throughout the years. They are so consistent - like coach said, it's not about stats, but they make KU men a better, stronger team every time. Great players with great personalities. I will miss them. I wish you seniors all the best, go get those $$$$!!! Rock Chalk!

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tony Bandle

Random Thoughts:

1] Based on this seasons distractions and circumstances, this team may have been judged as the least likely to defend the streak. Instead, it may up being the most memorable that did defend it.

2] Did I hear Dickie V right when he said that Bill Self was not the coach of the year??? Gee, I guess I don't understand the criteria if the best Coach of the best team in the best conference completes the best winning streak in the history of the game doesn't qualify.

3] Famous Jayhawks; Don Johnson, Jason Sudekis, Paul Rudd, Bill James.......please name some more.

4] Some careless play and poor free throw shooting on the part of the Hawks kept this from being a blow out.

5] Well, I guess it's back to the drawing board for Dok at the free throw line. By the way, does anyone know that Silvio is tied for the free throw % lead nationwide at 100%.
Maybe Silvio should work with Dok!

6] Is Vick injured or is something else going on. His play tailed off a bit last night.

7] Replacing five consecutive years of Frank, Frank and Devonte and Devonte is going to be Bill's biggest challenge next season.

8] If they can keep hitting their threes, the Hawks will be very, very dangerous.

9] Dammit; Lunardi, keep your.mini cocks in the freezer

NS0NK YOU

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tony Bandle

My apologies for comment #9. That was supposed to read #1 Seed but I fell asleep typing...... maybe I better seek psychiatric help! :(

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Dave Miller

We'll just chalk it up to an emotional night and let it go at that... Rock Chalk!

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tim Orel

I thought I read on here after Silvio's big game that he was working with Dok on free throws (but mostly learning the rest of his game FROM Dok).

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Bryce Landon

My favorite part of the game, aside from the victory, was seeing Kansas in red. I've been on here for the last few years begging to see the Jayhawks in red again, and I finally got my wish. Props to Devonte for making it happen! Kinda weird to see the visitors in the home white, though. Also, props to the team for joining with Texas to honor leukemia patient Andrew Jones with their pregame warmups.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Jonathan Allison

How amazing is it that KU has stayed so healthy all year despite the starters playing so many minutes? Andrea Hudy has done a terrific job working with these guys to strengthen their weaknesses.

Hopefully the good health continues throughout the post-season. Kansas has always been one injury away from disaster this season. Whether that injury is to Graham, Dok, Svi, Newman, Vick, Mitch, or even Garrett who gets a lot of credit for his defense, but has proven to be dangerous with the ball in his hands lately.

Honestly, Garrett's game is looking a lot like Tyshawn Taylor lately. He seems to be able to drive at will right now. It will be interesting to see how he develops over the next couple years. There has always been rumors of him as a point guard, and if he can become a legit facilitator he could be the man in a couple years.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tony Bandle

J.A., I made that prediction at the beginning of the season even when he was having offensive adjustment issues. I think we're looking at a future Frank or Devonte!

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Thomas Green

This season looked bleak at times, but is now a roaring success in my opinion. Record breaking seasons like this don’t happen often!

Obviously I’d love to see much more come March. This teams character, never give up attitude and senior leadership make anything a possibility!

Congratulations to the entire team, with a special emphasis on the truly remarkable seniors! You clearly will be successful in anything you choose to pursue.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tom Jones

It's everyone's favorite time of year...Crow Eating Time! Special thanks to Yonatan Negash and Steve Johnson and of course, our annual leader in nonsensical posting, Bryce, for so much hilarity!

Jaston Archie 2/10/18 I don’t understand why Devonte gets such a pass by KU coaches and fans, he is a small, unathletic very average player. I guess it’s bc he plays so many minutes that any time he messes up or shoots bricks it’s bc he’s tired and has to carry the team. He’s not built to carry a team, I can’t wait for next season

Bryce Landon 2/10/18 I think it's time that we come to grips with grim reality: We are not going to win the Big 12 this year. We don't have the manpower to do it, and we don't have the willpower either. I, for one, am resigning myself to KU's fate to finish anywhere from 2nd-5th place, what with Texas Tech going into Manhattan and annihilating KSU this evening. The streak has been fun, and it's been nice to tie UCLA's old record, and it would have been nice to have that record all to ourselves; but with Billy Preston's issues, Sam and Silvio not panning out, all the departures before the season, and the players losing their edge, No. 14 isn't happening. And the sooner we come to terms with that, the better off we will be.

Robert Brock 2/6/18 This team is out of gas; it is going to go on a sustained losing streak. KU will end up with a pitiful NCAA Tourney seed with an early out.

Andy Goodwin 1/24/18 This team is walking a tightrope between being good (they are not a top 5 team) and finishing in the middle of the Big 12. By Monday night, KU will likely be tied with KSU and WVU and this talk of the Big 12 going through Allen Fieldhouse will be muted nationally again.

Steve Johnson 1/4/18 How about the fact the coaching staff has done a poor job recruiting. This team is in trouble. Not chance of winning the Big 12 nor getting a favorable seed in the tournament.

Yonatan Negash 1/4/18 Hate to say it but this season is a wash.

Yonatan Negash 1/4/18 More losses are inevitable, I'm not in denial like you are. We will lose 10+ games this season, whether you like or not, it's going to happen.

Steve Johnson 1/3/18 Not a chance of winning the Big 12 or having success in the Tournament with this team. They are all a step slow, cant box out and are not mentally tough. Big Dok looks like a Big Nope. He can dunk and that is it. Cant rebound, cant defend, cant block shots, cant block out, change his name to the Big Cant!

Tracey Graham 1/3/18 This is the worst KU team I've seen since I was in school in the 1980s (pre-Larry Brown).

Freddie Garza 1/3/18 This is finally going to be the year that KU doesn't win the league. It was coming, and I think a bunch of us actually NEED to be humbled. Sucks for us, but overall, it's good for the league for someone else to win it. We'll reload and get back to dominating the league again in no time. But this certainly is NOT the year for Jayhawks.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tom Jones

Bryce Landon 2/12/18 Look at us! We have 4 conference losses and have looked very bad in all four of them. We already got our asses kicked by Tech in our own building! We have lost 2 out of 3 in decisive fashion! What about the way we are playing right now suggests to you that we can that coveted 14th title, beat a Tech team that is more talented and hungrier than we are, or that we deserve anything higher than a 3 seed?

Steve Johnson 2/10/18 No chance for a Big 12 title or winning the Big 12 Tournament.

Bj Cassady 12/17/17 This is a team at this point that cannot defeat OU, OSU, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia on the road, W Virginia, OU and Baylor will be tough outs at home.

David McNickle 12/11/17 Shows you what sportswriters know. This is a Top 25 team at best.

Allin Herring 12/10/17 This is maybe the worst and softness KU team in decades.

Steve Johnson 12/10/17 this teams not a top 20 team. Not even close.

Craig Carson 12/10/17 hate to say it, but I'm already writing this team off as a 10 loss, 5 or 4 seed, 3rd in the Big 12, out by opening weekend in the NCAA and looking forward to next year

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tony Bandle

Tom, I think you have way too much time on your hands but I must recognize the extreme effort you put in to make your fellow Jayhawks look bad. Your posts may quality among the most mean spirited posts I've ever seen on this site. Be happy that they were wrong but recognize the fact that at the time that they posted, circumstances did indicate all the negatives as a possibility.

Man you must be a sad little man to take pleasure in trying to humiliate others. Go find another team to cheer for.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Harlan Hobbs

Actually, I kind of liked your summary, Tom. I agree that the comments came at times when the circumstances didn't look all that good. However, some posters have a knack for taking "defeat from the jaws of victory."

How many times did we hear that certain individual opponents would go for 40 against us, only to be basically shut down when the games occurred.

If someone wants to be a consistent downer, that is fine. There are pessimists in all walks of life - - so be it. However, if someone only jumps on the band wagon when the team wins, then they are being a little hypocritical.

Finally, Bryce deserves some slack. He has made some wonderful posts lately, and he did admit that the team surprised him.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tony Bandle

Tom, after reading Harlan's comments i over-reacted to your post. Just that in this time of celebration of a wonderful team accomplishment, I wasn't ready for negativity. Let's just all enjoy this team for what it is and for however far it goes, it will be a special season.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tom Jones

It's no big deal, Tony. I'm not mean-spirited at all, actually, but I do call em like I see em. ;) I certainly wasn't "happy they were wrong" for any other reason than them being wrong meant we won the league.

I didn't go to any great lengths to make anyone look bad or humiliate anyone. I copied and pasted their own words because 1) it's hilarious in retrospect and 2) I hope they learn something from it and become better posters. If anything, they humiliated themselves.

And of course I love my Hawks. I put it here because it was a story about winning the conference and all of these posts were about not winning the conference. Seemed pertinent.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Tom Jones

I haven't seen these wonderful posts, Harlan, but I have seen posts from him admitting being wrong, and that's at least a step in the right direction. More than we got from Rodney Crain, anyway...baby steps! :)

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Harlan Hobbs

I think that most all of us bleed "crimson and blue" when it comes to basketball. Sometimes it just comes out in different ways.

The bottom line is that we are extremely fortunate to be able to share in all the program has meant to us over the past 120 years. I remember and had the pleasure of being at the 100 year celebration back in 1998. I have my sweatshirt of the occasion, and it even still fits, although I've had to lose some weight to make it happen. Oh, the joys of getting old.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Jerry Ryan

Don’t forget all the “phans” who insisted Coach Self was “out coached “ in Norman by Lon Kruger. Please. To think HCBS didn’t know what was happening or what to do is laughable still! A coach’s job is to get his team ready to win a championship. If all that mattered to Coach was to win that one game, you can damn sure bet he would have won that game.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Report

Commenting has been disabled for this item.