By Matt Tait --- firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Louis — Conner Frankamp and Perry Ellis kept the Jayhawks in it in the first half and Jamari Traylor had a heck of a lot to do with making sure his team survived in the second, during KU's 80-69 victory over 15th-seeded Eastern Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Scottrade Center.
In 13 first-half minutes in place of ineffective starter Naadir Tharpe, Frankamp scored six points and dished two assists. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over, which was what sent Tharpe to the bench in the first place.
KU committed 13 turnovers — compared to just five for EKU — but got steady enough play from Frankamp and Ellis to head into the locker room tied at 32.
In the second half, KU's size wore down the Colonels (24-10), who kept throwing up three-pointers all afternoon and watched 39 percent of them go in (12-of-31).
Tarik Black came up with some big blocks and dunks and Traylor's ability to attack the rim and rip rebounds out of the air was huge toward KU hanging on in this one.
Traylor contributed a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Black (12), Andrew Wiggins (19) and Ellis (14) also reached double figures for KU, which improved to 25-9 and will move on to Sunday.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks ripped off an 8-1 run after finding themselves tied at 56 with around 8 minutes to play. Traylor and Wiggins were huge in the run, finishing buckets right at the rim to give Kansas just enough of a cushion to survive.
• Offensive highlight: With 6:05 left in the first half and the Jayhawks needing a spark, Andrew Wiggins came up with a block on one end and then raced down the floor to catch a lob from Frank Mason that pulled the Jayhawks within 23-18. A few minutes later, Mason and Wiggins connected on another alley-oop play that helped bring the KU fans in the building to life. In the second half, Tarik Black had a string of three power dunks in six or seven possessions to help the Jayhawks hang tough.
• Defensive highlight: With the game tied at 56, and on the heels of a three-point play on the other end, Jamari Traylor came up with a nasty block of EKU's Glenn Cosey that led to a free throw from Wayne Selden on the other end for the Jayhawks. Selden missed the second free throw but Traylor slipped in for the rebound and flushed it to put Kansas up three with 7:55 to play. In all, Kansas used its size advantage to the tune of 7 blocks. EKU finished with 1.
• Key stat: KU's field goal percentage (59.6) helped them survive in this one, which played perfectly into EKU's hands for much of the day, with the Colonels forcing turnovers and knocking in three-pointers.
• Up next: With their victory today over Eastern Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the second-seeded Jayhawks (25-9) will face No. 10 seed Stanford at a yet to be determined time on Sunday.
Stanford advanced to the third round with a 58-53 over New Mexico in the first game of the day in St. Louis.
6-foot-2 junior guard Chasson Randle led the Cardinal (22-12) with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic added 10 points apiece for Stanford, which jumped out to a huge lead early in the game, led by five at halftime and held on for the victory.
KU is 8-2 all-time against Stanford. The Jayhawks last faced the Cardinal in December of 2003 in Anaheim and lost, 64-58. Before that, KU played Stanford in the second round of the 2002 NCAA tourney (also in St. Louis) and won 86-83 en route to reaching the Final Four.
The Cardinal feature four players who averaged double figures in scoring this season and are led by all-Pac-12 first team selections Randle and 6-10, 240-pound forward Dwight Powell.
In addition, senior forward Josh Huestis was named to the all-Pac-12 defensive team and junior wing player Anthony Brown earned the Pac-12's most improved player of the year award.
Stanford is coached by Johnny Dawkins, the former Duke assistant, who is now in his sixth year in Palo Alton, Calif.