ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- David pushed and shoved Goliath, but couldn't knock him down.
Narrowly avoiding a dubious place in history, top-seeded Kansas survived the loss of star guard Kirk Hinrich and defeated No. 16 Holy Cross, 70-59, in the first round of the Midwest Region.
Drew Gooden had 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Jayhawks (30-3), who trailed with less than nine minutes left but held Holy Cross to (18-15) to four points over the last 6:05.
Kansas' clutch play in the closing minutes allowed it to avoid becoming the first top seed to lose in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
"We found out early in the game that it wasn't going to be a blowout," Gooden said. "They played us tough from the very start." Hinrich, who is second on the team in scoring with more than 15 points per game, sprained his left ankle late in the first half, was helped to the locker room and returned to the bench on crutches.
X-rays were negative, but his status for a second-round matchup with either Western Kentucky or Stanford is in doubt. Coach Roy Williams called the sprain "severe." "Kirk's had a lot of sprained ankles over his career, and this appeared worse than in the past," Williams said. "We'll just have to wait and see." It gives Williams just one more thing to think about. He already has been bombarded with questions about his inability to win a national championship, despite being a top seed three previous seasons.
The Crusaders nearly took advantage of Hinrich's absence but ran out of gas in their first game since winning the Patriot League championship.
"It feels like someone ripped our hearts out," guard Ryan Serravalle said. "We felt like we deserved this game. We're definitely not satisfied with a moral victory." "I'm very proud of our guys," Crusaders coach Ralph Willard said. "I think we wore down in the second half, no question about that." Brian Wilson and Tim Szatko had 13 points apiece for Holy Cross, which took a 37-35 lead into intermission shortly after Hinrich went down.
Playing a tough matchup defense, the Crusaders had Kansas worried in the second half, keeping the lead throughout the opening 10 minutes.
"The first thing you have to give is Holy Cross credit," Williams said. "If there was an easy answer to how to adjust, I would have done it by the first timeout, the second timeout, the third timeout." The Crusaders had a 49-48 lead following three free throws by Szatko, but Jeff Boschee answered with a 3-pointer, giving Kansas the lead for good with 8:37 to play.
Wilson had five straight points for the Crusaders to keep them within 60-57 with 4:12 remaining. But they went cold from the field, missing their last six field goal attempts.
The Big 12 Player of the Year, Gooden took over when it counted. In the last six minutes, he set up Wayne Simien for a dunk, scored in transition and hit a pair of free throws to account for six straight points.
Gooden went 7-of-15 from the field for the Jayhawks, who shot 46 percent (24-of-52). They also went 19-of-23 from the free-throw line.
Patrick Whearty added 12 points for Holy Cross, which shot just 33 percent (20-of-60) and was outrebounded, 42-31.