Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Devonte’ Graham went off for a career-high-tying 35 points and 5 assists and No. 2 Kansas downed Syracuse, 76-60, in the Hoophall Invitational in Miami.
Lagerald Vick added 20 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for the unbeaten Jayhawks (7-0). Svi Mykhailiuk had 11 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Tyus Battle led the Orange (6-1) with 22 points and Frank Howard scored 15 points with 7 assists.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Devonte’ Graham is a killer
Graham was initially committed to Appalachian State before he was ultimately let out of his Letter of Intent and then signed with Kansas. Now here he is in his senior year averaging 15.8 points, 8.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
The Jayhawks will go as far as Graham can lead them this year. They’ll certainly be in the mix for yet another Big 12 regular-season title and have the talent to make another Final Four.
Kansas can get even better
The Jayhawks are only playing six players at this point but they could get deeper and better in the coming weeks. Kansas is still without freshman forward Billy Preston, and it’s unclear when the 6-10 post player will debut. Meantime, the Jayhawks will add transfer Sam Cunliffe later this month and could get Silvio de Sousa, who has a tremendous motor, at the semester break. Give Bill Self a couple of months to work those guys into the rotation and that should help Kansas’ depth going forward.
Syracuse isn’t very deep
Like the Jayhawks, Syracuse plays a tight rotation, too. It’s going to be all about Battle and Howard offensively, with freshman forward Oshae Brissett (13 points, 9 rebounds) also important. Losing Geno Thorpe could prove critical going forward, especially if Battle or Howard gets hurt or in foul trouble. Still, Syracuse will win some games it shouldn’t because Battle is a pro and the few players they do have are all capable of making an impact.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.