Rushed Reactions: #2 Kansas 80, #15 Eastern Kentucky 69

Posted by Adam Stillman on March 21st, 2014

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Three Key Takeaways.

Andrew Wiggins and the Kansas Jayhawks pulled away from Eastern Kentucky late. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Andrew Wiggins and the Kansas Jayhawks pulled away from Eastern Kentucky late. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  1. Kansas avoided the biggest upset of them all. With Mercer taking down Duke, and Harvard, North Dakota State and Dayton picking up surprising wins in the NCAA Tournament’s first two days, it looked to be the year of the upset. Eastern Kentucky had Kansas on the ropes deep into the second half before Kansas finally used its athleticism to pull away late. Andrew Wiggins and Jamari Traylor were aggressive attacking the basket and the offensive glass down the stretch, leading to several second-chance opportunities, including two putback jams from the latter.
  2. Eastern Kentucky wasn’t scared. The Colonels took it right at the Jayhawks, not backing down one bit. The three-point ball kept EKU in it, as the Colonels hit 12 bombs from long range. Kansas went 0-of-7 from deep. Glenn Cosey scored 14 quick points while going 4-of-5 from beyond the arc to hand EKU an early 23-14 lead. EKU attacked the rim and stayed aggressive on defense while forcing 13 first half turnovers, as the game was tied at 32 heading into intermission. And just when it looked like Kansas would pull away in the second half — leading 45-38 — a 10-0 run from the Colonels put them back ahead. The Colonels cut another seven-point lead to just three before running out of steam down the stretch.
  3. Kansas dominated the paint. Predictably, the Jayhawks were men among boys when it came to post play on Friday, as Kansas got about anything it wanted inside the paint and driving into the lane. That all added up to an astounding 54 points in the paint and a 60 percent clip from the floor. The Jayhawks controlled the boards, holding a 43-19 edge on the glass and a 17-6 advantage in second-chance points. They got in some trouble when Eastern Kentucky sped them up and they settled for perimeter jump shots, but when they exploited their advantage in terms of athleticism, Kansas looked like a national title contender. When they didn’t, they looked ripe for an upset. Which team will show up on Sunday?

Star of the Game: Jamari Traylor, Kansas. This spot very easily could have gone to Andrew Wiggins. After all, the freshman phenom did score a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go along with two monstrous alley-oop dunks. But nope, this honor is going to Traylor. The big man tallied 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds, two assists and what seemed like a billion ridiculous dunks. Whenever Eastern Kentucky made a run to get back in the game, it seemed like Traylor was there with a hustle play — whether it was an offensive rebound or a finish around the basket — to give the momentum right back to Kansas.

Quotable: “That was interesting, wasn’t it?” — Kansas head coach Bill Self

Sights & Sounds: Eastern Kentucky fans had a nice showing, taking up an entire section and screaming their ears off — all while standing the whole time. The Wichita State, Kentucky and Kansas State fans in attendance for the first session joined in. What at first seemed like Allen Fieldhouse East in the early going quickly turned into a 60/40 scenario.

Wildcard: Kansas did a great job on Eastern Kentucky’s top scorers. Glenn Cosey scored 14 points in the game’s first 12 minutes, but he didn’t score again. Second-leading scorer Corey Walden averages 14 points per game, but the Jayhawks limited him to just four on the afternoon. A lot of Walden’s struggles can be attributed to foul trouble, though; he only played 20 minutes before fouling out, and never could get into the flow of the game.

What’s Next? Kansas will advance to play #10 seed Stanford on Sunday. The Cardinal knocked off #7 seed New Mexico 58-53 in the first game of the day in St. Louis.

Adam Stillman (46 Posts)


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