On Friday night in Kansas City, Missouri, the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks showed flashes of brilliance, yet struggled throughout in defeating Western Kentucky, 64-57 .
With the win, Kansas improved to 30-5 on the season, while finishing off Western Kentucky at 20-16. Next up for Kansas is a meeting with former head coach Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday. North Carolina defeated Villanova, 78-71 in the 8-9 match-up. The Tar Heels are 25-10 on the year.
The Jayhawks turned the ball over 17 times, aiding the Hilltoppers chances in nearly pulling off the big upset.
Kansas center Jeff Withey scored 17 points, seven blocked shots, and five rebounds. Super freshman Ben McLemore scored just 10 points on 2-5 shooting, with some key free throws down the stretch. Travis Releford scored 11 points. Western Kentucky was led by Jamal Crook who scored 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Aleksejs Rostov scored 11 points, while T.J. Price and Georges Fant added 10 points.
The first half went back and forth with neither team holding much of an advantage, as the Hilltoppers held a 31-30 lead at halftime. Kansas began to take control early in the second half, stealing a 40-35 lead after McLemore hit a couple of free throws. The lead grew to 11 points with around four minutes remaining after Releford hit a free throw, though the pesky Hilltoppers battled back. A three pointer by Brandon Harris cut the lead to four with 25 seconds left, though four key free throws from Naadir Tharpe, helped preserve the win for Kansas down the stretch.
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