Tom Keegan: Devonte' Graham has sterling NCAA tournament record

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) puts up a three over Purdue guard Dakota Mathias (31) during the first half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

This NCAA tournament features a few talented guards who have had more to celebrate in the postseason than Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham, who has a 7-3 record on college baksetball's biggest stage.

North Carolina senior Joel Berry, Villanova junior Jalen Brunson and Duke senior Grayson Allen all played prominent roles on national champions.

Xavier seniors Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura have had big March moments. Wichita State’s Conner Frankamp has played seven NCAA tournament games, including two for Kansas.

But none of the above names have shot the ball as well during March Madness as Graham.

The memories that endure from NCAA tournaments tend to be from the final game, and for every team but one each year, it’s a loss.

Graham’s junior season ended with his worst of 10 postseason performances. Oregon’s long and strong veteran guards, playing in a matchup zone, made clean looks at the basket difficult to come by for Graham, who misfired on all seven shots, six from 3-point range. He scored just three points in 38 minutes.

It ended a tournament tear that Graham had cobbled together. Starting with the Elite Eight loss to Villanova in 2016, Graham had averaged 19 points in his previous four NCAA tourney games and had made 18 of 31 3-pointers (.581).

The big stage usually brings out the best in Graham, who as a sophomore scored 28 points and slowed national player of the year Buddy Hield in a regular-season victory at Oklahoma.

In his 10 tournament games, eight as a starter, Graham has averaged 12 points and compiled a .455 3-point percentage.

Scoring and 3-point numbers compiled in the tournament by other March Madness veteran guards include:

Allen (12.9, .395), Bluiett (12.3/.356), Berry (11.4, .288), Brunson (8.9/.350), Frankamp (7.3/.407), Macura (6.9, .304).

Next to Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk has KU’s most NCAA tournament experience. He saw garbage time in two games, quality time in eight, and has averaged 7.3 points and shot .350 from 3.

Lagerald Vick has played in five games, totaling 111 minutes and 36 points, and has shot .333 from 3.

Mitch Lightfoot has three minutes of tournament experience, which places him fourth in experience on the roster. He scored five points in two minutes at the end of KU’s 98-66 rout of Purdue in the Sweet 16 last season.

Malik Newman sat out last season after transferring from Mississippi State, which did not make the tournament field in Newman's freshman season. Udoka Azubuike was injured after playing 11 games last season.


Chandler Accipiter

Nice to read about Tae's tourney success. For too many of us, like it or not, players are often remembered for their last game each year come tourney time. A great run this year would do wonders for erasing the bad memories of his shooting woes against Oregon and the "phantom" fouls versus Villanova.

4 days, 18 hours ago


Tom Jones

He was great vs. Villanova. Selden and Ellis cost us that game, period.

But yes, it would be justice for him to have a great E8 game against Bucknell to get the Oregon taste out of all of our mouths. Gotta get there first!

4 days, 18 hours ago


Bryce Landon

Ellis was triple-teamed by bigger guys all night long. But yes Selden, despite scoring 15 points, was 0/5 from three and shot us out of the tournament.

4 days, 17 hours ago


Tom Jones

He wasn't triple-teamed, LOL. He was doubled occasionally and he was the focus of Villanova's defensive game plan. But he just missed a couple bunnies early and got completely passive, stopped working to get his shots and kept turning it over. That was always the knock on him, though. A great KU player who played too passively too often. It was just a bad time for him to do it.

3 days, 17 hours ago


Mike Greer

Nova made a conscious decision Perry Ellis was not going to beat them. As much as he was double and triple teamed, there should have been ample opportunity for Seldon, Mason, and/or Graham to shoot open 3s, none, especially Seldon, could pour in the points to compensate for Perry's lack of freedom to score. They did the same to Buddy Hield and tried to do the same to NC's big, but NC started shooting from beyond the arc and Nova changed strategy, leaving the Big the opportunity to score.

Oregon took advantage of our lack of an inside scorer and pressured the guards. Frank could drive on them, but that wasn't part of Devonte's game. He's a better all around player this year, he will be more difficult to stop. This will be especially true when Dok is back, he's such an inside presence, you can't just leave him alone for even a second, and Silvio is becoming the same way, both are scoring threats inside.

4 days, 16 hours ago


Armen Kurdian

KU just flat out panicked against Oregon. 'Nova played solid and I thought we did too, they were just a little better. Though losing that one was rough as I watched the game in a sports bar in downtown Philadelphia...

4 days, 13 hours ago


Doug Merrill

Agree, Armen - I happened to be in Louisville on business that night and got tickets to the Villanova game. As described here, Wayne could not hit but Devonte kept us in. He -not Frank for some reason - seemed to be the only Jayhawks who played with frantic intensity as the clock wound down.

4 days, 12 hours ago