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Baylor, Kansas remain 1st and 3rd in latest AP poll

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Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) comes away with a ball on the floor during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) comes away with a ball on the floor during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Third is still the word for the Kansas men’s basketball team.

When the latest poll was released on Monday morning, KU held onto its No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 for the fifth week in a row.

Baylor and Gonzaga remained in the top two spots ahead of the Jayhawks, with the Bears receiving 48 first-place votes, the Zags getting 14 and Kansas retaining the one first-place vote it has had throughout its stay at No. 3.

The Jayhawks and Bears are closing in on a Big 12 showdown at 11 a.m. Saturday in Waco, Texas, where the conference title and potential No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament could be on the line.

KU plays host to Iowa State tonight and Baylor plays at Oklahoma on Tuesday before the battle of Top 3 teams.

KU now has been ranked in 216 consecutive AP polls, bringing the Jayhawks closer to eclipsing UCLA’s all-time record of 221 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25.

The Jayhawks are 5-3 this season against the current Top 25, with wins over No. 5 Dayton, No. 17 West Virginia (twice), No. 18 Colorado and No. 23 BYU. KU's three losses all came to teams ranked in the Top 25 — No. 1 Baylor at home, No. 6 Duke in the season opener and at No. 12 Villanova.

IN AND OUT

BYU climbed into the poll at No. 23 after wins over Loyola Marymount and San Diego, and now faces Santa Clara on Thursday night before a showdown with the second-ranked Zags. The Cougars were followed by Arizona at No. 24 and Ohio State at No. 25, two teams that were in the poll earlier this season before dropping out.

Illinois plummeted out of the poll after losing to Michigan State and Rutgers. Texas Tech also dropped out along with LSU, which lost at Alabama during a brutal Saturday for the nation’s Top 25 teams.

CLIMBING AND FALLING

Creighton made the biggest leap this week, rising from No. 23 to 15th after beating then-No. 10 Seton Hall and DePaul. Penn State moved up four spots to crack the top 10 at No. 9, while Oregon climbed from No. 17 to 14 and Kentucky moved up two spots to round out the top 10.

Louisville’s weak week culminated in a drop of six places to No. 11, while Seton Hall also absorbed a pair of losses and fell to No. 16. West Virginia lost to Baylor and Kansas but was only penalized three places and remained No. 17.

MID-MAJOR WATCH

There are some intriguing mid-major programs poised to enter the Top 25 if there’s another week of upsets. Stephen F. Austin quietly improved to 22-3 and is one of the first teams out, while Northern Iowa (22-4), Utah State (21-7) and Rhode Island (19-6) are getting plenty of love from voters as March begins to bear down on the college basketball season.

Here’s a look at this week’s complete AP Top 25:

1 – Baylor, 23-1, 1,559 (48)

2 – Gonzaga, 26-1, 1,518 (14)

3 – Kansas, 22-3, 1,434 (1)

4 – San Diego State, 26-0, 1,404

5 – Dayton, 23-2, 1,294

6 – Duke, 22-3, 1,285

7 – Maryland, 21-4, 1,194

8 – Florida State, 21-4, 1,088

9 – Penn State, 20-5, 1,024

10 – Kentucky, 20-5, 1,011

11 – Louisville, 21-5, 837

12 – Villanova, 19-6, 824

13 – Auburn, 22-3, 818

14 – Oregon, 20-6, 742

15 – Creighton, 20-6, 718

16 – Seton Hall, 19-5, 567

17 – West Virginia, 18-7, 552

18 – Colorado, 20-6, 501

19 – Marquette, 17-7, 404

20 – Iowa, 18-8, 254

21 – Butler, 19-7, 242

22 – Houston, 20-6, 237

23 – BYU, 21-7, 188

24 – Arizona, 18-7, 102

25 – Ohio State, 17-8, 95

Others receiving votes: Texas Tech 92, Michigan State 87, Michigan 83, LSU 55, Rhode Island 39, Virginia 32, Cincinnati 14, Stephen F. Austin 14, Illinois 12, Northern Iowa 9, Utah State 8, Rutgers 6, Florida 6, East Tennessee State 5, Saint Mary's 4, Tulsa 3, Richmond 3, SMU 2, New Mexico State 2, Wright State 1, Arizona State 1.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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