KU, behind in Big 12 race, needs help this time

LAWRENCE, Kan. — If Kansas is going to win a 15th straight Big 12 championship, the Jayhawks will have to win this title in a most unfamiliar way.

Kansas kept its conference title hopes alive on Monday night by beating first-place Kansas State 64-49 at Allen Fieldhouse, but the Jayhawks, 10-5 in the Big 12, remain in third place. They’re a game behind 11-4 Kansas State and a half-game behind 10-4 Texas Tech.

So the Jayhawks can’t win another Big 12 title just by winning their final three games. They also need help from others.

“I don’t know that I can remember a time when we didn’t control our own destiny,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “There’s been years when we’ve had five games [remaining] and been behind a game or something. But going into the last three, I don’t know that we’ve ever been in a situation where we didn’t control it.

“We know we’ve got to run the table. Talking about winning the league and talking about the streak are two different things. We’re not talking about the streak. We’re talking about this team trying to win the league. Obviously, we’ve got to have some good things happen, and there’s no margin for error for us any longer. We know that, but I’d rather have us be in the game than not in the game.”

Needing help to win a title has Self and the Jayhawks rooting for the opponents of Kansas State and Texas Tech. TCU has games remaining against both the Wildcats and Red Raiders.

“[Coach] Jamie Dixon and the Horned Frogs are my second-favorite team in the league, without question,” Self said.

Even if Kansas gets the necessary help from TCU or others, Kansas can’t feel good about its chances of winning out. The Jayhawks’ next two games are at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

Kansas is 2-5 on the road in Big 12 games.

“We’re capable of playing a heck of a lot better on the road than what we have, and we’ll have to in order to put ourselves in position to at least contend for it,” Self said of the conference title. “We’ve been so poor on the road. We just need to try to get a win in Stillwater, and then if we get a win in Stillwater, then we can talk about it a little bit. But we’ve got to prove ourselves on the road before we can even talk about it.”

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