No. 1 Kansas Claims Big 12 Championship Title, Defeats No. 9 West Virginia 81-71
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Top-ranked Kansas complemented its 12th-straight Big 12 regular-season title with its 10th Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title by defeating No. 9 West Virginia, 81-71, on Saturday evening at Sprint Center.
Sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after tying his career high in points (27) and shooting lights-out all night – making his first five 3-point field goal attempts and going 10-for-10 at the free throw line. For the tournament, Graham totaled 52 points with tournament-highs of 19 assists and 11 steals.
Wayne Selden Jr., added 21 points for Kansas (30-4), which reaches 30 wins for the fifth time in the last seven seasons and will now await its seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, announced Sunday exclusively on CBS at 4:30 p.m. Central time.
Senior All-American Perry Ellis scored 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the free throw line in his final Big 12 postseason contest, earning All-Tournament honors for the second time in his illustrious career.
West Virginia (26-8), a No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament, was led by Devin Williams’ 31 points on 9-of-12 shooting with 10 rebounds. Williams fouled out with under a minute remaining in regulation. The Bob Huggins-coached Mountaineers went just 2-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Kansas turned the tables on WVU’s ‘Press Virginia’ style of play by converting 20 Mountaineer turnovers into 26 points. Graham led the KU charge with four steals.
The Jayhawks started slow and overcame at halftime deficit for the second consecutive game. WVU went on an early 6-0 run as KU came up empty on its first six possessions with two turnovers and missing its first four shots. Graham got the Jayhawks rolling offensively with his first 3-pointer at the 15:32 mark and two minutes later swished another 3-pointer after a WVU defender jumped after his pump-fake.
Sharp shooter Brannen Greene came off the bench to add another 3-pointer which gave KU its first lead of the game, 11-10, and spurred a 10-1 run. It ended up being Greene’s only bucket of the game as the Jayhawks maintained its lead until the 1:11 mark of the first half. WVU went into halftime with a 34-33 lead after Elijah Macon made a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining in the period.
Graham drained a 3-pointer on KU’s first possession of the second half, which served as the catalyst for KU’s quick response to trailing at halftime for the second time in two nights. Graham led Kansas to an 18-5 run to start the second half.
Selden and Ellis added cushion to KU’s lead with a 3-pointer and a layup, respectively, for a 60-46 lead at the 9:26 mark for KU’s largest lead of the game (14 points).
WVU slowed the pace by forcing the Jayhawks to the free throw line where KU all but iced the game by going 14 of 15 in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
KU’s next field goal would not come until the 3:41 mark as Graham fed Lucas on the post, who completed the 3-point play after being fouled by WVU. Selden added a 3-pointer which put KU up, 73-65, with 2:41 remaining.
The Jayhawks combined to make its final six free throws to allow Jayhawk fans in attendance at Sprint Center to breathe easy and chant ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk’ one more time.
Kansas will await its seed and first-round opponent in the upcoming NCAA tournament, which will be revealed during the NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Central time exclusively on CBS, NCAA.com and on the March Madness Live app. The Selection Sunday show has expanded to two hours and is the exclusive, live first-time announcement of the pairings for the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Outstanding Player: Devonte’ Graham
Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Devin Williams (West Virginia)
STARTERS (Season Starts / Career Starts)
Jr. G Frank Mason III (34/73), So. G Devonte’ Graham (32/32), Jr. G Wayne Selden Jr. (33/104), Sr. F Perry Ellis (34/105), Jr. F Landen Lucas (15/29)… 15th time this combination has started a game (14-1 record).
SERIES INFO: Kansas is now 6-3 all-time against West Virginia, including 2-1 this season… This was the first meeting between the two schools in Big 12 Championship play… KU head coach Bill Self is 6-3 against West Virginia, while WVU’s Bob Huggins is 3-10 all-time versus Kansas (3-6 while at WVU).
ATTENDANCE: 19,046 (Sprint Center)
ABOUT THE WIN…
Make Kansas 30-4, extending its winning streak to 14 games… Give Kansas 30 wins for the 13th season, including five of the last seven years… Make KU 13-4 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse (7-3 in true road games and 6-1 on neutral floors)… Make Kansas 10-2 in Big 12 Championship title games and 14-6 in all-time league tournament title tilts… Improve Kansas to 71-26 in league tournament play, 41-10 at the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 31-6 all-time in Sprint Center, including 4-0 this season… Give Kansas a 6-3 all-time series advantage against West Virginia… Make Bill Self 382-82 while at Kansas, 589-187 all-time and 36-11 in conference tournament play, 27-6 while at Kansas in the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 2,183-835 all-time.
Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham
• Earned Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player honors after tying a career-high 27 points on Saturday.
• Tallied a season-high four steals for the second consecutive game.
• Set a career high in free throws made by going 10-for-10 at the charity stripe.
• Now has three 20-point performances this season.
• Made his first five 3-point field goal attempts.
• Third career 20-point scoring effort.
Senior F Perry Ellis
• Named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team for the second time and first time since his freshman season (2013).
• Ended the tournament shooting 18-for-19 at the free throw line to set a Kansas Big 12 tournament record for free throw percentage (.947, minimum 10 free throws made).
• Totaled a co-tournament-best 58 points after averaging 19.3 ppg in three contests.
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