Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Jeff Withey posted 17 points, seven blocks
and six rebounds, as Kansas snuck past 16th-seeded Western Kentucky, 64-57, in
a second-round matchup in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament at the
Travis Releford and Ben McLemore each registered 11 points for the Jayhawks
(30-5), who became the first team in NCAA Division I history to win 30 or more
games in four straight seasons.
With the victory, Kansas advances to Sunday's third round, where the top-
seeded Jayhawks will take on No. 8 seed North Carolina.
Jamal Crook led Western Kentucky (20-16) with 13 points and nine rebounds,
while T.J. Price poured in 12 points for the Hilltoppers, who earned their
second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after claiming the Sun Belt crown.
Both teams shot 48 percent from the floor in a tightly-contested first half
that featured six ties and 11 lead changes, with the final one coming with
under a minute left on Crook's jumper that sent the Hilltoppers into the break
holding a 31-30 advantage.
Kansas put the clamps on defensively in the second half, as the Jayhawks held
WKU to just 20.5 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes, including a
dismal 2-for-14 mark from beyond the arc.
The Hilltoppers connected on just two field goals over the first 10-plus
minutes of the second half, allowing Kansas to build a 43-37 edge after Kevin
Young split a pair of free throws near the midpoint of the frame.
O'Karo Akamune finished back-to-back layups around two free throws from Withey
to bring WKU within four with 8 1/2 minutes left, but the Hilltoppers went the
next five minutes without a field goal to watch their hopes of an upset all
Kansas finally created some separation as Western Kentucky struggled to find
the bottom of the net, with Withey pouring in five points in an 8-1 Kansas
spurt that gave the Jayhawks a 53-42 lead with just over three minutes left.
Crook quelled the WKU drought with a three-point play and then added a pair at
the stripe following an Elijah Johnson turnover to trim the margin to six.
Releford responded with a layup, but Price buried a trey from the top of the
key at the other end to bring WKU within 55-50 with 1:57 to play.
However, Kansas was able to seal the outcome from the charity stripe, as the
Jayhawks knocked down 9-of-10 from the line over the final 46 seconds to hang
on for the victory.
WKU shot 31.8 percent from the field overall, despite going just 3-for-20 from
3-point range ... Kansas finished 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, marking the
first time since Feb. 9, 2008 that the Jayhawks were held without a 3-pointer
... Kansas leads the all-time series with Western Kentucky, 4-1 ... Aleksejs
Rostov and George Fant finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the
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