Blair Kerkhoff

It’s been this long since Kansas didn’t control its Big 12 title path this late

Three games for each team remain in the Big 12 basketball season and this is the time Kansas is usually counting down the days to a championship, firmly in control of its title path.

That’s not the case this season, even with the Jayhawks’ victory over first-place Kansas State on Monday night.

That outcome plus Big 12 action later in the week tightened the race, with the Wildcats and Texas Tech tied for first after the Red Raiders’ victory over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. They have 11-4 records. Kansas stands in third place, one game behind at 10-5, tied with Baylor. The Bears defeated Texas in overtime on Wednesday.

At 9-6, Iowa State, in fifth place, remains alive.

Adding to the intrigue is Kansas’ streak of 14 first-place finishes.

“We know we have to run the table,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We’ve got to have some good things happen and there’s no margin for error.”

The Jayhawks often have reached this juncture with a cushion in the standings. Last year, Kansas owned a one-game lead over Texas Tech and in the next game beat the Red Raiders in Lubbock to lock up at least a share of No. 14.

In each of the previous two years, the Jayhawks led by at least two games at this point and there was little stretch-run drama.

Not since 2013 have the Jayhawks arrived this point without standing alone in first place. That year, Kansas and Kansas State were 12-3 and won their next two games. Both lost on the final day of the season and that was the last time KU didn’t win an outright Big 12 title.

The last time Kansas wasn’t at least tied for first with three games to play and in control of its path? In 2011, Texas held a one game over KU but the Longhorns lost their next two and Kansas won out.

A similar scenario unfolded in 2008, when Texas led Kansas by one game with three to play. The Longhorns lost their next game at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks didn’t lose and captured a share of the league title.

Once during the streak, Kansas trailed by a game with two remaining. The leader? You guessed it, Texas.

In 2006, the Longhorns walloped KU 80-55 to take a one-game lead. But Texas lost its next game, at Texas A&M. The Jayhawks won their final two games to forge a tie.

But Kansas has also blown a lead. It happened in the first year of the streak, 2005. The Jayhawks stood 10-3, Oklahoma 9-4 with three games remaining. Both won their next two. But on the final day, KU lost at Missouri while the Sooners won, and Kansas started its streak with a first-place tie.

Remaining opponents

Kansas State: Baylor, at TCU, Oklahoma

Texas Tech: at TCU, Texas, at Iowa State

Kansas: at Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, Baylor

Baylor: at Kansas State, Oklahoma State, at Kansas

Iowa State: at Texas, at West Virginia, Texas Tech

Big 12 standings with three games remaining since 2005


1. Kansas State 11-4

(tie) Texas Tech 11-4

3. Kansas 10-5

(tie) Baylor 10-5


1. Kansas 11-4

2. Texas Tech 10-5


1. Kansas 13-2

2. West Virginia 10-5


1. Kansas 12-3

2. West Virginia 10-5


1. Kansas 11-4

2. Iowa State 10-5

(tie) Oklahoma 10-5


1. Kansas 13-2

2. Iowa State 10-5

(tie) Texas 10-5


1. Kansas 12-3

(tie) Kansas State 12-3


1. Kansas 13-2

2. Missouri 12-3


1. Texas 12-1

2. Kansas 11-2


1. Kansas 13-0

2. Kansas State 10-3


1 Kansas 12-1

2. Oklahoma 11-2

(tie) Missouri 11-2


1. Texas 11-2

2. Kansas 10-3


1. Texas A&M 11-2

(tie) Kansas 11-2


1. Texas 11-2

(tie) Kansas 11-2


1. Kansas 10-3

2. Oklahoma 9-4

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