LAWRENCE, Kan. – A career-high night from Kansas senior guard Devonte’ Graham highlighted another offensive explosion from the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks as Kansas topped Toledo, 96-58, Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse. KU shot over 55 percent from the field for the fourth-straight game as four Jayhawks scored in double figures.
The win pushed the Jayhawks to 6-0, the first time KU has started its season with six-straight victories since the 2010-11 season. The visiting Toledo Rockets fell to 3-3 in their young 2017-18 campaign.
With the Jayhawks’ senior leader entering the game as his team’s fifth-leading scorer at 12 points per game after his first five outings of the season, Graham was no doubt the leader Tuesday night in the final campus game of the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Despite what the final score reflected, Toledo was able to keep pace with some hot shooting from long range to start the game. All four of the Rockets’ first four field goals came from beyond the arc. Rocket forward Luke Knapke connected on a jumper and followed that up with a free throw with just under 12 minutes to play in the half to pull his team within three at 18-15. That’s as close as his team would get though, as the ensuing Jayhawk run quickly put to rest any doubt of an upset bid by the visitors.
Senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk responded with his first of five 3-pointers on the night to kick start a 30-2 Kansas run that quickly put the pesky Rockets in the rear view mirror. Graham was the key to the torrid KU stretch, scoring 12 of his 23 first-half points over a six-minute span to help get the KU lead up to 48-17 with just over four minutes to play before the intermission.
Toledo stomped out the KU run by hitting five of its final six shots of the first half, but back-to-back jumpers from Graham and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Mykhailiuk sent the Jayhawks to the locker room with a 59-30 advantage.
KU closed out the first stanza shooting 75 percent (24-of-32) from the field, the most accurate shooting half by a KU team since 2011, and the seventh-straight half the Jayhawks had shot 55 percent or better from the field.
That Kansas offense didn’t cool down at all during the 15-minute halftime, as the Jayhawks started the second frame on a 13-0 blitz to extend their lead to more than 40 points for the first time on the night at 72-30.
While the Kansas shooters continued to scorch the nets, its defense was just as effective. KU held Toledo to just one field goal over the first 13 minutes of the second half and brought the Rocket turnover total to 20 by game’s end. Those 20 giveaways proved to be fruitful for the home side, which converted Toledo’s miscues into 32 of its 96 points.
Graham netted his 33rd, 34th and 35th points on his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 8:34 remaining and his team holding an 86-35 lead. He headed to the bench shortly thereafter with a new career high and the most field goals (15) by a Jayhawk since 2007.
After Graham’s departure KU’s hot hands cooled over the final minutes of the contest. KU converted on only three of its last 10 attempts. Toledo used that stretch to whittle down the 51-point KU lead to 38 over the final eight minutes of the game.
In addition to Graham’s career-scoring outing, three other Jayhawks scored in double figures with redshirt-sophomore guard Malik Newman putting in 17 points, his most as a Jayhawk; Mykhailiuk adding 15 points on a 5-of-6 mark from 3-point range, and sophomore center Udoka Azubuike netting 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
Kansas will face Syracuse, Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Hoophall Miami Invitational, at American Airlines Arena in Miami. The game will start at 4:30 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ESPN with Rich Hollenberg and Dick Vitale calling the action. This will be the second of three NBA venues Kansas will play in this season.
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