LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kansas is a team with NCAA tournament veterans who were ready to offer some advice to freshmen Scot Pollard and Jacque Vaughn on Saturday.
Maybe offer is too mild a term.
"The seniors got on us pretty hard at halftime," Pollard said. The Jayhawks trailed by four points at the break. "They told us we have to step up our play.
They did, Pollard completing two three-point plays during a decisive 11-0 run and Vaughn scoring 12 points in the final 20 minutes in sparking Kansas to a 69-58 victory over Wake Forest in the NCAA Southeast Regional at Rupp Arena.
"Heck, I didn't want it to be my last game," Pollard said. "I wanted to get out there and play, and play well. We came out a lot harder and played our game."
Fourth-seeded Kansas (27-7) will face top-seeded Purdue on Thursday night in Knoxville, Tenn.
Wake Forest (21-12) rallied from a 43-39 deficit to go ahead, 49-48, on Randolph Childress' shot in the lane with 9:08 to play.
Pollard, who finished with 13 points, then started Kansas' decisive run with a jump hook and free throw. After Steve Woodberry made a layup, Pollard made another three-point play for a 56-49 Kansas lead.
"I was just doing what I was supposed to be doing--just posting up inside," said Pollard. "I was excited. Hopefully I won't have to make those kinds of plays in the future. I'm not used to that kind of pressure."
Vaughn capped Kansas' run with a three-pointer from the left wing for a 59-49 margin with 6:21 to go.
Fifth-seeded Wake Forest went 8:06 without a field goal after Childress' go-ahead basket, ending the drought on Rusty LaRue's three-pointer with 1:02 to go. The Demon Deacons missed 10 shots and turned the ball over four times during that span.
"The last 10 minutes of the game belonged to Kansas," said Childress. "Their defensive pressure toughened and Kansas made all the keys plays when they had to have them."