LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas is back on top of the college basketball world after knocking off Baylor in a matchup of Big 12 heavyweights, while the Bears dropped to No. 2 in The Associated Press men's poll Monday after their nip-and-tuck loss in Waco.
The Jayhawks (24-3, 13-1 Big 12) received 62 of 64 first-place votes from the national media panel to take over the No. 1 ranking for the second time this season. Kansas was atop the poll for one week in December, when it seemed as if just about every school that ascended to No. 1 promptly lost in a topsy-turvy start to the season.
“We're a silent team that can make a run late in March,” Jayhawks guard Devon Dotson said after the 64-61 victory Saturday. “We're not going to get complacent from this one. We're going to build off of it.”
Baylor (24-2, 13-1) received two first-place votes and fell to second after its 23-game winning streak came to an end. Gonzaga was No. 3 after a loss to BYU, and Dayton leapfrogged San Diego State for No. 4 after the Aztecs lost for the first time in a week when every team in the top 10 found itself in a new position from last week.
The most notable change, of course, came at the top.
“Baylor is the best team that we've played against since I’ve been in the league the last 17 years,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self, whose team begins its four-game finishing stretch against Oklahoma State on Monday night. “You could look at Oklahoma State in ’04 and you could look at (Texas) Tech in ’19, but I think Baylor has played better than both those teams at the same stage. I don’t know how it’s going to finish, but I certainly feel strongly about that.”
Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team spent five weeks at No. 1, was equally effusive in his praise for the Jayhawks.
“Kansas has really progressed since the last time we faced them,” he said. “We had a heck of a run. I never thought I’d see anyone do what we did. The Big 12 is so tough. Six straight years we’ve been the number one conference for a reason."