Kansas avoids upset with strong finish

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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By Bucky Dent

The Sports Xchange

ST. LOUIS — By the normal measures of a stat sheet, Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. did not contribute much to Friday’s 80-69 win over No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region.

But it was what Selden not allow Colonels guard Glenn Cosey to put on his stat line that enabled the No. 2-seeded Jayhawks to survive a spirited upset bid and advance to a third-round game Sunday against Stanford.

Switched to Cosey after the senior lit it up for 14 points in the first 11 minutes, Selden gave up nothing until a garbage-time 3-pointer in the final minute. Using length and quickness, Selden denied Cosey the clean looks he enjoyed when Eastern Kentucky established a nine-point lead with 8:47 left in the first half.

“I just tried to change things up against him,” Selden said. “I wanted to give him different looks every time he caught the ball.”

That change in strategy, along with complete dominance of the lane and cutting way back on turnovers in the second half, allowed Kansas (25-9) to avoid the same upset bug that claimed Duke earlier.

Freshman forward Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points to lead five Jayhawks in double figures. Reserve forward Jamari Traylor tallied all 17 of his points after halftime and added 14 rebounds, while forward Perry Ellis kicked in a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double.

Center Tarik Black, starting for the injured Joel Embiid (back), added 12 points and blocked four shots. Guard Conner Frankamp came off the bench to contribute 10 points in 25 turnover-free minutes.

Frankamp’s play added needed stability to a backcourt that hemorrhaged error after error against the Colonels’ 1-3-1 zone trap in the first half. Kansas committed 13 turnovers and Eastern Kentucky cashed them in for 19 points.

“I thought we had to steal the ball before they could shoot it,” Colonels coach Jeff Neubauer said. “In the first half, we did a great job of stealing it. We had eight steals. In the second half, we didn’t have a steal.

“That allowed them to shoot it and go rebound it. We just couldn’t keep them off the glass.”

The Jayhawks rolled up a 54-20 advantage in paint points and outrebounded Eastern Kentucky, which started four guards and 6-foot-8 forward Eric Stutz, by a whopping 43-19 margin. Kansas had more offensive rebounds (14) than the Colonels had defensive caroms (11).

But Eastern Kentucky sank 12-of-31 3-pointers, getting three from guard Tarius Johnson (15 points) in addition to Cosey’s five. Even Stutz went behind the arc to hit one as he finished with 15 points.

However, the Colonels didn’t get enough from senior guard Corey Walden, their second-leading scorer behind Cosey. Walden stayed in foul trouble throughout, finally drawing his fifth with 3:19 left. He played only 20 minutes and scored four points.

“He’s the Defensive Player of the Year in our league,” Neubauer said, “and he didn’t play enough for us to win.”

Eastern Kentucky led 23-14 after Cosey’s 3-pointer with 8:47 left in the first half and still owned the lead as late as the 8:55 mark of the second half at 56-55. But with Cosey shut down and Walden saddled with fouls, it didn’t have enough to hold off the longer, stronger Jayhawks.

“It wasn’t the beginning we wanted with all the turnovers in the first half,” Traylor said, “but we didn’t make turnovers in the second half. We won the first one and now we play again Sunday.” 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.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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