It took some timely improvisation, a disputed call and a clutch last-second shot for Kansas to thwart Kansas State’s upset bid Tuesday night.
When Svi Mykhailiuk could not get the ball inbound to Kansas star Frank Mason with the score tied and 5.6 seconds remaining, the Ukraine native opted to pass to Devonte Graham instead. Mykhailiuk then sprinted up court, called for the ball back from Graham and went coast to coast, giving the Jayhawks a 90-88 win with a controversial driving layup as the buzzer sounded.
Because Mykhailiuk picked up his dribble on a dead sprint before he reached the top of the key and took at least three steps before releasing his layup, Kansas State players and staff members were adamant he should have been called for traveling. All three referees chose not to make the call, leaving the Wildcats in disbelief as the Jayhawks mobbed Mykhailiuk underneath the basket.
The last-second shot from Mykhailiuk helped third-ranked Kansas improve to 13-1 overall and remain on track to capture its record-tying 13th consecutive Big 12 title. The only other program to win that many league championships in a row is UCLA from 1967 to 1979.
Mykhailiuk made an unlikely hero because the junior only entered Kansas’ starting lineup in mid-December and is often the team’s fourth or fifth option when on the floor. In this game alone, four other Jayhawks had more points than Mykhailiuk’s 11 as Kansas fed Josh Jackson (22 points) and Mason (15) throughout the game and then played through Landen Lucas (18) in the post down the stretch.
Losses to a rival always sting, but this one will be especially heartbreaking for Kansas State.
Not only will the Wildcats feel robbed by the lack of traveling call on Mykhailiuk, they’ll also cringe watching their own final possession. Dean Wade had a clean look at a go-ahead top of the key jumper, but the 41.9 percent 3-point shooter had his potential game-winning shot rim out.
Kansas State falls to 12-2, still a good start for a program desperate for an NCAA bid but one still missing a signature win.
The Wildcats almost got one at Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night, but they were undone by a good shot and a bad call.