- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - So far, not so good for Kansas.

Gone is the dream of beginning defense of its NCAA championship as a No. 1 seed.

Sunk is just about any chance of playing near home in Kansas City, about 40 miles east of the University of Kansas.

Lost is all the Jayhawks’ momentum. All the young team can do now is await whatever fate the NCAA selection committee chooses to give an up-and-down collection of athletes who have come crashing back to earth after losing twice in their last three games to supposedly inferior foes.

“We are going to go home and regroup and just try to be better in the next couple weeks,” freshman Tyshawn Taylor said after the loss in Oklahoma City.

After being ousted 71-64 by Baylor in the second round of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday, the No. 11 Jayhawks (25-7) returned to an empty Allen Fieldhouse to practice on Friday and Saturday “as hard as we have ever practiced,” coach Bill Self said.

They had figured to be playing in Oklahoma City each day and maybe meeting Oklahoma in the Big 12 finals. But instead, the ninth-seeded Bears grabbed a big lead and dealt Kansas its first loss in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

“It definitely stunts our momentum,” Self said.

The Jayhawks had figured that winning the Big 12 tournament would land them in Kansas City’s Sprint Center for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. But the loss to Baylor makes that unlikely.

“Probably not,” guard Sherron Collins said when asked if he expected to be playing next week in Kansas City.

Wherever Kansas is sent now will no doubt be a long trip for any fans who wish to be there.

“I’m not really thinking about that now, just upset with (the Baylor loss)” said guard Brady Morningstar.

A bigger concern for the Jayhawks is a worrisome tendency to allow opposing stars have big games against them. In the 84-65 loss at Texas Tech on March 4, Alan Voskuil poured in 35 points. In a 10-point victory over Texas on Saturday that clinched the Big 12 title, the Longhorns’ Damion James had 26.

Then, in their second loss in three games, the Jayhawks watched LaceDarius Dunn hit six 3-pointers and score 24 points.

“We let him get comfortable,” Self said. “Very, very discouraging. It is something you tried to hang your hat on and something we did a very poor job of.”

Also troubling was the unusually poor play of Collins and center Cole Aldrich, the Jayhawks’ two all-Big 12 stars. Collins was only 6-for-20 from the field and Aldrich took only five shots and finished with eight points and 14 rebounds.

“I think the whole team feels poorly,” Self said. “Here’s a couple of guys that made first-team all-league and you want to come to our showcase of our league, which this is, the tournament, and perform your best and kind of validate what everybody else has been saying about you the whole year. We obviously didn’t do that.”

“We’ll practice as hard the next two days as we ever have,” Self said. “Hopefully, we’ll get confidence through work. I’m not a big believer something great has to happen all the time to be confident.”

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