ST. LOUIS — Despite a slow start, the Kansas Jayhawks were able to notch an 80-69 win over a gritty 15th seeded Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
Jamari Traylor came up huge for the Jayhawks off the bench, having career highs in both scoring and rebounding with 17 points and 14 boards. Conner Frankamp played 25 minutes for the Jayhawks, scoring a career high 10 points and dishing out four assists.
“We actually played better with Conner in the game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game. “But there was no set game plan. I knew he would be the first guard off the bench. And I told him that before, but I was just real pleased he answered the bell.”
The Colonels started off hot from behind the arc led by senior Glenn Cosey, who began the game 3-4 from the three point line. Cosey had 14 first half points, and finished with 17 points.
Eastern Kentucky’s largest lead came with 8:45 in the first half, at nine points. Kansas was able to come back from the deficit before the first half ended, and the score was tied at 32.
“Seeding you know is just who’s wearing the light and who’s wearing the dark colored jersey,” Self said. “Eastern Kentucky could beat a lot of teams in America today. They were really good and they came to win and they didn’t come just to play. And I think obviously their coach and their staff and their players deserve a lot of credit.”
Kansas went 0-7 from the three point line, while Eastern Kentucky went 12-31 from three. The Jayhawks had 13 turnovers in the first half, which the Colonels were able to score 19 points from. Kansas only committed one turnover in the second half, largely in part to consistent guard play.
“We’ve got to shoot the ball better,” Self said. “And we’ve also got to handle the ball better.”
The Jayhawks dominated the boards largely because of double digit rebounding games from both Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis. The rebound margin was 43-19 in favor of Kansas, 14 of which came on the offensive end.
“Kansas is a great rebounding team and we absolutely had to steal it before they could rebound it,” Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer said. “They really did a great job of attacking the offensive glass.”
Kansas moves to a record of 25-9 on the season, and Eastern Kentucky finishes of the year with a 24-10 record.
The Jayhawks will be back at the Scottrade Center on Sunday and will face the 10th seeded Stanford Cardinal following their win 58-53 over New Mexico on Friday afternoon. The time of the game is yet to be announced.
— GJ Melia, KJHK Sports
Tune in to KJHK 90.7 FM in the Lawrence area on Sunday for the KU vs. Stanford NCAA tournament third round men’s basketball game. Follow @kjhksports for live updates throughout the game.