ST. LOUIS — On a Friday highlighted by Mercer’s stunner over Duke, Eastern Kentucky nearly smote a giant of its own in Scottrade Center.
But No. 2 Kansas finally gained control after a first half rife with turnovers, using its physical advantages inside to wear down the gritty Colonels and take an 80-69 NCAA Tournament second round victory.
Freshman forward Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points for the Jayhawks (25-9), who will meet 10th-seeded Stanford on Sunday in the third round of the South Region.
Forward Jamari Traylor scored all 17 of his points in the second half and tacked on 14 rebounds, while forward Perry Ellis added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Center Tarik Black, a Memphis transfer starting for injured Joel Embiid (back), contributed 12 points and reserve guard Conner Frankamp pitched in 10.
Kansas pounded Eastern Kentucky (24-10) on the boards, 43-19, and enjoyed a 50-18 advantage in paint points.
Senior guard Glenn Cosey paced the No. 15 Colonels with 17 points, while guard Tarius Johnson and forward Eric Stutz each tallied 15.
Another senior guard, Corey Walden, the team’s second-leading scorer on the season, managed only four points while staying in foul trouble before being disqualified with 3:19 left in the game.
Despite a lack of size — it started four guards and the 6-foot-8 Stutz — Eastern Kentucky made it competitive by forcing 13 first half turnovers, converting them into 14 points.
The Colonels also hit 12-of-31 shots from 3-point range.
Cosey helped Eastern Kentucky get off to a fast start, scoring 14 points in the first 11 minutes. His 3-pointer at the 8:47 mark forced Jayhawks coach Bill Self to burn a timeout with his team trailing, 23-14.
But Kansas forged a 32-32 tie at the half behind 10 points from Wiggins. It finally pulled away down the stretch as its fans in a crowd of 17,955 exhaled.
NOTES: Eastern Kentucky G Glenn Cosey tied an Ohio Valley Conference single-game record for 3-pointers on Jan. 2, sinking 10-of-12 against Eastern Illinois. It’s the fourth-most by any Division I player this season. … Kansas is making its 25th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the longest active streak in Division I. … Jayhawks assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, who’s in his 10th season at the school, served as an assistant with the Colonels during the 1997-98 season. … The teams played only once before Friday, a 79-65 Kansas victory on Dec. 5, 1970.
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