Senior guard Devonte’ Graham hopes to come close to matching his last two performances when second-ranked Kansas takes on Washington in the Jayhawk Shootout at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Graham was averaging 12 points through the first five games of the season before scoring 35 in back-to-back efforts against Toledo and Syracuse last week.
“He’s a point guard, but also a scoring point guard,” Kansas coach Bill Self told reporters after Graham drained seven 3-pointers in the 76-60 win over Syracuse on Saturday in Miami. “Seventeen doesn’t sound like a lot of shots to get 35. I do think we’re better when we have balance. But on a night we didn’t have much going on, Devonte’ needed to do that. He picked his spots well.” The Jayhawks try to start 8-0 for the first time since 2010-11 when they won their first 18 contests, and face a Washington team coming off four straight victories at home. The Huskies lost to Providence and Virginia Tech before its recent stretch and first-year coach Mike Hopkins is looking for the type of defense they played to put away Omaha 86-73 on Sunday. “That’s what we were trying to focus on from the jump, but we just didn’t bring the energy,” Washington junior guard Matise Thybulle told reporters Sunday. “We figured it out in the second half and it got contagious.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT WASHINGTON (6-2): Junior guard David Crisp poured in a season-high 24 points against Omaha and is averaging 13.3 despite shooting just 35.7 percent from the field. “He’s playing more minutes than he’s ever played in his life and he’s competing at a high level day in and day out,” Hopkins told reporters of Crisp. “… The great thing about David is he has the ability to score and make shots. I love point guards that can score.” Freshman guard Jaylen Nowell tops the team in scoring (17.9) and Noah Dickerson (16.4 points, 8.0 rebounds) is next, but the junior forward is questionable with a shoulder injury.
ABOUT KANSAS (7-0): Graham has pushed his season scoring average to 18.6, leading five players in double figures, and also contributes eight assists per contest with 20 makes from 3-point range - second most on the team. Senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has drained 25-of-46 from behind the arc and scores 17.1 per game while junior guard Lagerald Vick has added 16.4 points and seven rebounds. Udoka Azubuike, a 7-0 sophomore center, is among the national leaders in field goal percentage (77.0) after draining all three attempts versus Syracuse and is averaging 14.6 points to go along with seven boards.
1. Kansas entered the week sixth in the nation in scoring (91.9) and third in field goal percentage (53.5).
2. Thybulle, who averages 11.3 points, leads the team in blocks (14) at 6-5 - after swatting five against Syracuse - and steals (28).
3. The Jayhawks have won eight of the nine meetings with the Huskies and triumphed 73-54 in the last matchup in 2008.
PREDICTION: Kansas 84, Washington 62