South Region No. 2 Kansas has dealt with inconsistent guard play at times this season, and against an Eastern Kentucky team led by guard Glenn Cosey similar play could get the Jayhawks in trouble. Sure enough that was the case, with Kansas turning the ball over 13 times in the first 15 minutes of the game, and they would trial the OVC tournament champions by as much as nine.
However the Jayhawks would do a much better job of handling the basketball from that point forward, and that combined with their ability to work the ball inside resulted in an 80-69 victory.
In the game’s final 25 minutes Kansas turned the ball over just once, with freshmen Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason providing much-needed boosst at the point. In his reserve role Frankamp scored ten points and dished out four assists but the most important number for him was zero, as it represented the number of turnovers committed. As for Mason, he finished the game with four assists and just one turnover.
Frankamp, Mason and forward Jamari Traylor, who racked up 17 points and 14 rebounds, were all important factors for a Kansas team that took a while to get going against a tough Eastern Kentucky squad. Cosey (17 points), Tarius Johnson (15 points) and the rest of the Colonels refused to back down, and that put Kansas on their heels in the first half. The Jayhawks made poor decisions with the basketball and didn’t always work to get the best possible shot, ignoring their size advantage in the front court and their ability to get to the basket.
Once Kansas committed to going inside they were able to take advantage of an EKU defense that is one of the worst in the country when it comes to two-point percentage defense, with opponents making 56.1% of those shots. Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, with Traylor, Tarik Black and Perry Ellis also taking advantage of their ability to get inside.
Kansas finished the game shooting 60.4% from the field and they also controlled things on the boards, rebounding 56% of its missed shots on the afternoon.
As a result of their victory the Jayhawks will face No. 10 Stanford on Sunday, and how well they take care of the basketball will once again be key. How they reached that point wasn’t pretty, but thanks to their bench Kansas managed to grab control of the game late and avoid the upset.