Kansas avoids being upset by Colonels

News-DemocratMarch 22, 2014 

— Having watched Mercer stun Duke earlier Friday, the Kansas Jayhawks didn't need any reminders that upsets do happen in the NCAA Tournament.

The second-seeded Jayhawks had five players score in double figures as they avoided being upset by pulling away in the final three minutes for a 80-69 win over the 15th-seeded Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Friday.

"We were definitely watching it and we were talking amongst each other that we definitely have to come out and play aggressive and when bad things happen, we have to regroup and play a lot better," Kansas forward Perry Ellis said.

The Colonels, who lost to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 85-79 in Ohio Valley Conference play, led 56-53 with 9:13 to play.

The Jayhawks used an 11-1 run to seize a 64-57 lead with 5:30 left to play.

The Colonels got within 64-61 with 3:39 to go, but the Jayhawks reeled off seven unanswered points to open up a 76-64 advantage.

"We obviously feel fortunate because I thought Eastern Kentucky was well-prepared and they played great," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "They played loose and certainly gave us everything we wanted. It was a hard-fought game, and one that we had to work our tail off for 40 minutes to come out with a win."

The afternoon session drew 17,995 fans to the Scottade Center, including a large continent of Kansas fans who chanted, "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk," during their team's second-half surge.

"I was excited when we got placed over here," Self said. "I like coming over here to play, especially when I was at the University of Illinois. I don't want to go as far as saying it's a home away from home. That would be Kansas City.

"But, certainly it's nice to play the first couple of rounds in a venue that is relatively close and we can bring a lot of people over."

The Jayhawks (25-9) advance to play the Stanford Cardinal (22-12) on Sunday at the Scottrade Center.

The Colonels end their season at 24-10.

The Jayhawks had a huge advantage in rebounds and points in the paint over the Colonels. They outrebounded the Colonels 43-19 and outscored the Colonels 54-20 in the paint.

"We knew that Kansas was a great rebounding team, and we absolutely had to steal it before they could rebound it," Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer said. "In the first half, we did that really well. We had eight steals in the first half. We didn't have any steals in the second half, so they did a great job attacking the offensive glass."

Andrew Wiggins was the top scorer for the Jayhawks with 19 points. Jamari Traylor came off the bench to add 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Glenn Cosey paced the Colonels with 15 points.

Stanford 58, New Mexico 53

Walk-on Robbie Lemons and Chasson Randle each sank two free throws in the final 23 seconds as the 10th-seeded Stanford Cardinal knocked off the seventh-seeded New Mexico Lobos.

It marked the seventh straight year that a No. 10 seed has beaten a No. 7 seed in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

No. 7 seeds Oregon, Texas and Connecticut all won their matchups against No. 10 seeds this year.

The Lobos, who ended their season at 27-7, closed to within 54-52 on two free throws by Alex Kirk with 30.6 seconds left.

Lemons, who had attempted 12 free throws all season, made it 56-52 with two free throws with 23 seconds left.

"There is no a player who spends any more time on his game and in the gym," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said of Lemons. "And, a walk-on having that commitment for four years, for him to go to the line, you know he had the dream of that moment. The NCAA Tournament, at the line shooting crucial free throws.

"To step up there and make both of them, I said to the guys in the locker room after the game just how proud I was of him for that play and for having the confidence to seal the game for us."

Randle, who finished with a team-high 23 points, dropped in two free throws with 7.3 seconds left to put the Cardinal up 58-52.

The Lobos missed 15 of their last 17 shots in the loss.

Cameron Bairstow had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lobos, who were eliminated from tournament in their first game for second year in a row.

Last year as the No. 3 seed, they lost to Harvard.

"Obviously, you don't like to lose the first round," New Mexico senior guard Kendall Williams said. "Like we said going into the tournament, it's a win-or-go-home tournament, and we didn't win."

The Lobos fell behind 20-4 as the Cardinal hit their first six shots. They came back to tie the score at 45-45 with 10:07 remaining, but then fell back to 52-45 as they went scoreless for almost seven minutes.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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