Kansas outlasts Eastern Kentucky in first game of NCAA tournament

The Kansas Jayhawks defeated Eastern Kentucky, 80-69, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday. It wasn’t pretty but they got the job done.

The Bruise Brothers, Jamari Traylor and Tarik Black, were the heroes as they combined for 29 points and 19 rebounds. Traylor was crucial in the second half.

Kansas came out to a shaky start, turning it over 10 times in the first 10 minutes. Eastern Kentucky’s ability to turn Kansas over while hitting three point shots gave Eastern Kentucky a 23-14 lead at the 8:48 mark. However, Kansas was able to turn it around, going on a 18-7 run to finish the first half. Kansas only turned it over four times in the final 28:48 (and only one turnover in the second half).

Wiggins was spectacular as usual, scoring 19 points on 13 field goal attempts. He added four rebounds and two blocked shots. His high flying dunks sparked the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half.

While Eastern Kentucky played great pressure defense in the first half, they still allowed the Jayhawks to shoot 66 percent from the field. Kansas finished the game shooting 60.4 percent while Eastern Kentucky shot 38.6 percent.

Eastern Kentucky’s defense took a big hit mainly because of their star guard Corey Walden, spent most of the game in foul trouble. Walden had three steals in the first 12 minutes.

Glenn Cosey was terrific in the first half. He had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Cosey finished with just 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting.

The biggest reason Kansas won was rebounding. As I mentioned in the preview, KU needed to exploit the height difference. KU outrebounded EKU, 43-19. Ellis (13 rebounds) and Traylor (14 rebounds) were beasts on the glass while Tarik Black had several putback dunks from offensive rebounds.

Kansas faces No. 10 Stanford on Sunday with a trip to Memphis and the Sweet 16 on the line.