LAWRENCE (TNS) — Devonté Graham, who entered Tuesday’s non-conference clash against Toledo as Kansas’ fifth-leading scorer, put on a dazzling display in game six of the season on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Graham, KU’s 6-foot-2 senior point guard from Raleigh, N.C., who entered with a 12.0 points-per-game average while concentrating on dishing the basketball to teammates in the early going, erupted for a career-high 35 points in the Jayhawks’ 96-58 victory over the Rockets of the Mid-American Conference.
Graham — whose season-high had been 17 points against Texas Southern, and his previous career high 27 points against West Virginia and Oklahoma in his sophomore campaign — scored 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the first half as the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (6-0) grabbed a 59-30 halftime lead over the Rockets (3-3).
For the game, he hit 14 of 19 shots and was 5 of 8 on three-pointers after entering the game a 28.6 percent three-point shooter. Graham also dished out five assists and had five rebounds in 30 minutes. His five threes were one off a career-best mark.
Graham came close to the most points in a game by a player in the 15-year Bill Self era. Andrew Wiggins scored 41 against West Virginia on March 8, 2014, in Morgantown, W.Va. Elijah Johnson had 39 at Iowa State in 2013, and Ben McLemore 36 against West Virginia in 2013.
Graham led an offensive attack that accounted for 24 baskets in 32 attempts in the first half (39 of 66, .591 for the game) for an amazing 75 percent mark. KU hit 9 of 11 threes in the first half for 81.8 percent. The Jayhawks finished 12 of 20 on three-pointers. Toledo hit 40 percent of its shots, was 12 of 29 from three and had 20 turnovers to KU’s nine.
Svi Mykhailiuk (15 points, 5 of 6 threes) hit four threes in five tries the first half, good for 12 points. Malik Newman (17 points, 7-of-10 shooting) had nine points in the initial half on 4-of-5 shooting. Center Udoka Azubuike had 12 points and five rebounds.
Toledo was 7 of 12 on threes in the first half, but scored just 30 points.
Sophomore point guard Justin Roberts, son of KU assistant coach Norm Roberts, made his first start of the season and second of his career. He scored four points with two assists in 16 minutes. He had one assist in nine minutes in the first half. Tre-Shaun Fletcher and Nate Navigato had 12 points apiece for Toledo.
KU used a 30-2 run, yes a 30-2 run, to stretch a narrow 18-15 lead at 12:11 to 48-17. Graham had 12 points, Mykhailiuk nine, Newman five and Udoka Azubuike four in the surge.
The Jayhawks led 7-0 out of the gate, but Toledo tied it at 9-9 at 14:19, the game staying close until that 30-2 run.
Opponents in the HoopHall Miami Invitational have not provided much of a test for KU, that’s for sure.
The Jayhawks followed blowout wins over Texas Southern (114-71) and Oakland (102-59) with the Toledo rout. The Toledo game was the final game before KU’s signature game of the event — Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. game against Syracuse at American Airlines Arena in Miami.