• Key play: Kansas senior Elijah Johnson made a three-point play that gave Kansas a 28-27 lead with 1:29 left.
• Key stat: The Jayhawks had nine turnovers.
• Key play: In the span of 10 seconds, Withey had a block and a layup that gave the Jayhawks a 47-41 lead and some valuable breathing room.
• Key stat: Withey tied a Sprint Center record with seven blocks.
Kansas sophomore Naadir Tharpe simply said the Jayhawks’ guards had been sped up. But whatever it was, Kansas didn’t handle Western Kentucky’s ball pressure well on Friday night. Kansas finished with 17 turnovers, and Tharpe, Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore combined for nine turnovers.
The Jayhawks made do on Friday. But they’ll likely face stiffer defenses — VCU, perhaps? — later in the tournament.
“I think we could have definitely handled the pressure that they attacked us with full court,” Johnson said. “I think that mostly falls back on me and Naadir.”
• KU coach Bill Self will go for his 300th win at Kansas on Sunday when the Jayhawks play North Carolina in the round of 32 at 4:15 p.m.
• Kansas’ victory over Western Kentucky pushed the Jayhawks’ record to 30-5, making KU the first Division I program to record 30 victories in four straight seasons. Memphis also accomplished the feat from 2006-09, but the Tigers’ victories during the 2008 season were later vacated after an NCAA investigation. Kansas is now 130-16 over its last four seasons.
• KU improved to 11-0 all-time against No. 16 seeds while pushing their NCAA Tournament record to 94-40.
• Jeff Withey moved into a tie for No. 4 on the NCAA Tournament career blocked shots list at 39. Duke’s Shelden Williams also had 39 in his career.
| Rustin Dodd, firstname.lastname@example.org