EKU swarms Jayhawks early but can't pull upset

Associated PressMarch 21, 2014 

ST. LOUIS — Glenn Cosey was ready to head down the tunnel to the court of the Scottrade Center for Eastern Kentucky's game against Kansas on Friday when he caught the end of Mercer's upset of Duke.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," he said, "that anything was possible."

Cosey and his cohorts nearly added to the madness of this March, keeping the second-seeded Jayhawks on the ropes until the closing minutes of their second-round game. It wasn't until Kansas finally wore down the 15th-seeded Colonels inside that it pulled away for an 80-69 victory.

"I felt like this was the year of upsets, and we could pull this off," said Cosey, who hit five three-pointers and finished with 17 points. "Unfortunately, we couldn't."

So the Jayhawks advanced to play No. 10 seed Stanford on Sunday in the South Regional, while Eastern Kentucky (24-10) headed home after having its seven-game win streak come to an end.

"It's hard for all of us," Tarius Johnson said, "because we played so hard."

Johnson had 15 points for the Colonels, who still have never won an NCAA tournament game in eight tries. Eric Stutz also had 15 points, but second-leading scorer Corey Walden was hampered by foul trouble and wound up with just four points on 2-for-3 shooting.

"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."

Well, good enough.

Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, Jamari Traylor had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Perry Ellis added 14 points and 13 boards as the Jayhawks (25-9) dominated the paint.

"We knew against the defense of this team, we had to make good decisions, great plays and throw it inside," Wiggins said.

Of course, it took the Jayhawks a half to figure all that out.

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.

When the final seconds ticked away, Self slowly walked to the scorer's table to shake hands with his Eastern Kentucky counterpart. He exhaled deeply as he stuck out his hand, and the first words he said were, "Great game."

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