- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Bill Self gathered his team around the bench late in Friday’s game against Eastern Kentucky, one that had grown a bit too close for comfort for the second-seeded Jayhawks.

His team had gone back to chucking up jumpers, the scrappy Ohio Valley Conference champions had regained the lead, and thoughts of Mercer’s upset of Duke earlier in the day were on everyone’s mind.

“I thought we responded as a group,” Self said.

The Jayhawks resumed pounding away inside out of the timeout, slowly took control down the stretch and pulled away for an 80-69 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Andrew Wiggins had 19 points for the Jayhawks (25-9), who will play No. 10 seed Stanford on Sunday in the South Regional. Jamari Traylor added 17 points and 14 rebounds, Perry Ellis had 14 points and 13 boards and Tarik Black finished with 12 points as Kansas dominated in the paint.

“Our main focus on the game was to get in there and pound them,” Traylor said.

Even without 7-footer Joel Embiid, who is out for the weekend with a back injury.

Glenn Cosey hit five 3-pointers and had 17 points for the 15th-seeded Colonels (24-10), who have lost all eight of their NCAA tournament games. Tarius Johnson and Eric Stutz finished with 15 points apiece, but second-leading scorer Corey Walden was held to four points before fouling out.

“Corey is a very important part of our team,” Colonels coach Jeff Neubauer said. “With that being said, that’s not an excuse. Kansas really played great.”

In the second half, perhaps. Certainly not in the first.

Like a swarm of gnats, the smaller guards of Eastern Kentucky made life miserable for the turnover-prone Jayhawks in the first 20 minutes. Kansas had more turnovers (10) by the midway point than field goal attempts (9), and at one juncture turned it over on six of eight possessions.

Most of those miscues turned into easy points at the other end.

The Colonels, buoyed by their trademark 3-point shooting, raced out to a 23-14 lead, silencing a heavily pro-Jayhawks crowd and even making some fans out of New Mexico and Stanford folks.

“Our defense is focused on turning people over and being aggressive,” Stutz said. “In that first half, that’s what got us our lead.”

It wasn’t until the first of two rim-rattling dunks by Wiggins off alley-oop passes that Kansas showed some life. The second came during an 8-0 flurry that gave the Big 12 champions a 28-27 lead with just over a minute to play, their first since the opening minute of the game.

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