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Bill Self and Kansas likely falling out of top 10 after consecutive losses for 1st time this season


WACO, Texas (AP) — Kansas is almost certain to slip out of the top 10 in The Associated Press poll for the first time in three seasons after losing consecutive games for the first time this year. The Jayhawks also can't win the Big 12 regular-season title.

Still, this is only the start of March and coach Bill Self didn't sound as down as some might have expected after the Jayhawks' 82-74 loss Saturday at 15th-ranked Baylor.

“I actually thought we did some good things,” Self said. “The thing about it with people in general, we're all guilty of this, whether it be right or wrong, you know, we only focus on the end result as opposed to the actions and everything that goes in to put yourself in position to have success with the end result.”

The Jayhawks (21-8, 9-7 Big 12), with seven conference losses for the first time in Self's 21 seasons, were really undone by only one bad stretch midway through the second half when playing the only other major conference team with six consecutive 20-win seasons. Kansas and Baylor (21-8, 10-6) are also two of only four teams that have won at least one game in each of the last four NCAA Tournaments.

Big 12 scoring leader Kevin McCullar Jr. scored 20 points in his return to the lineup after missing four of the previous five games with a bone bruise in his knee. Hunter Dickinson also scored 20 points as the Jayhawks shot 55% (32 of 58), a mark bolstered by 46 points in the paint.

McCullar said Self's message after the game was simple.

“It's March now, he told us, it’s going to come to a time and point now where you just win or go home,” McCullar said. “Got to learn from it, definitely got to turn the page and get ready for these next two (games). Try to handle business and then get ready for the Big 12 tournament and go from there.”

The Jayhawks play their home finale against Kansas State on Tuesday night, a week after Big 12 newcomer BYU won 76-68 at Allen Fieldhouse — their only home loss this season. They then finish the regular season at top-ranked Houston. Kansas can extend its record stretch of winning records in conference play to 35 seasons in a row by winning one of those games.

Kansas has been a top-10 team for the 55 consecutive polls since the start of the 2021-22 season, which ended with the Jayhawks as national champions. The second-longest active streak is Houston's 35 in a row.

Baylor used a 13-2 run over nearly four minutes to stretch a one-point lead to 12 midway through the second half.

“Actually thought it was a pretty well-played game,” Self said. “I didn’t think that our defense in the second half was near as good as the first half. But I’m leaving out of here, not encouraged, but less discouraged than what I’ve probably did some of our other losses.”


AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball