MANHATTAN, Kan. – Double-doubles from Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman, along with some stingy zone defense, propelled the No. 7/7 Kansas Jayhawks past Kansas State, 70-56, Monday night inside Bramlage Coliseum in the 288th edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Svi Mykhailiuk led all scorers with 22 points as KU held the Wildcats to 32 percent shooting and claimed its second victory over its in-state rival this season.
The victory lifted the Kansas to 18-4 in 2017-18 and 7-2 in Big 12 play. K-State fell to 16-6 on the year and 5-4 in the league.
In a defensive move not often seen by Bill Self-coached Kansas squads, the Jayhawks utilized a zone defense in the waning minutes of the first half and for the majority of the second to heavily neutralize the K-State offensive attack. The Wildcats were held to their second-worst shooting night of the season (32.3 percent) and a 6-of-27 clip (22.2 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.
It was the Kansas offense though, that shined early. KU silenced the 12,528 gathered inside Bramlage Coliseum not long after the opening tip-off. The Jayhawks sprinted out to a 12-2 lead behind the same early-minute torrid shooting that KU has grown accustomed to this season. The visitors hit each of their first five shots, four of which were from beyond the 3-point arc. Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick paced the Jayhawks early, scoring 11 of the team’s first 15 points, with Mykhailiuk’s second trey of the night putting his team ahead 15-4 by the 14:27 mark.
Meanwhile, K-State couldn’t buy a bucket. KU held its in-state rival to just two field goals for more than seven minutes to start the contest. But the shots eventually began to fall as the Wildcats used a 6-0 run to pull within five points, 15-10, prior to the under-12 minute media timeout.
KU answered with a Graham 3-pointer and back-to-back dunks from Udoka Azubuike to get the lead back into double-digits. Newman followed soon after with the Jayhawks’ sixth trey of the half and Kansas found itself with a 13-point lead midway through the opening stanza.
Mykhailiuk added seven of his 13 first-half points over the next seven minutes to help his team withstand another K-State run. A pair of Amaad Wainright free throws saw the Wildcats trim the Jayhawk edge to five points at 32-27 with just under five minutes to go before the break, but KU had another answer to take back the momentum.
The Jayhawks ended the half on an 8-0 run, much due to a stingy zone defense that held KSU without a bucket for the final 3:30 of the half. That spurt got KU’s lead back to double digits as the teams headed to the locker rooms, 40-27.
Kansas did not enjoy the same fortuitous shooting touch in the early minutes of the second half that the Jayhawks exhibited in the first. KU began the second half without a field goal for more than seven minutes, missing each of its first nine shots and allowing the Wildcats to once again cut into the lead, trimming it to 40-35 on Xavier Sneed’s lay-in at the 15:09 mark.
Graham broke his team out of the scoring drought with a pair of free throws, just before Mykhailiuk buried his third 3-pointer of the night, and KU was again able to get its lead to double figures, 45-35, with 12:53 to play in regulation.
The Jayhawks again went into the zone that had caused the Wildcats fits to end the first half and its effects were once again felt by the KSU offense. K-State managed only three field goals over a nearly eight-minute long stretch and Kansas took advantage. The Jayhawks elevated their lead back to 11 points when Newman turned in a three-point play with a lay-up and a foul with less than eight minutes remaining.
Kansas cruised from there and thwarted and chances of a Wildcat comeback down the stretch. Two more 3-pointers from Mykhailiuk, along with Newman and Graham combining to go 8-of-8 from the charity stripe over the final six minutes helped the Jayhawks seal the 70-56 win, their largest in Manhattan since 2006.
Mykhailiuk hit the 20-point mark for the third-straight game, leading his team with 22 points with a 5-of-9 mark from 3-point range. Graham collected his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 assists, while Newman joined his senior teammates in double-double territory for the first time in his career, netting 13 points and pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds.
Lagerald Vick was the fourth Jayhawk to score double figures Monday night, adding 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.