LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The admission that came from Kansas coach Bill Self was brutal in its honesty, which everyone should have expected. Self rarely sugarcoats any of his team's shortcomings.
It came Sunday, just a few minutes after San Diego State had ended the Jayhawks' 68-game non-conference winning streak in Allen Fieldhouse, after Self was asked whether his team was as far along as he expected with Big 12 play starting up this week.
"Candidly? No, we're not as good as I thought we'd be, and our players know that," Self said. "I still think we'll be good, it's just taking longer than I thought."
Time is running out, too.
The No. 18 Jayhawks (9-4) begin pursuit of their 10th consecutive Big 12 title with a trip to Oklahoma on Wednesday night. It's the first stop in a five-game meat-grinder against teams that are a combined 60-8, a stretch that could decide early on whether Kansas is a contender.
After playing Oklahoma, the Jayhawks face No. 25 Kansas State, ninth-ranked Iowa State, No. 11 Oklahoma State and seventh-ranked Baylor — all at home but the Sooners and the Cyclones.
That just about makes the Jayhawks' non-conference schedule look easy.
"It's a joke. I mean, it's a joke," Self said. "This is the one thing I wish they could change, and there's no way they could, and this isn't me complaining — this is just a fact — I think if the Big 12 schedule came out earlier, that you could impact how you schedule your games."
Sure, the Jayhawks knocked off then-No. 4 Duke in Chicago early this season, but they've mostly stumbled against premier teams. They lost to No. 8 Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis, dropped back-to-back road games to No. 15 Colorado and No. 10 Florida, and then lost to the No. 13 Aztecs in a game that San Diego State controlled nearly start to finish.
It's the first time Kansas has lost four games this early since the 2005-06 season, Self's third in Lawrence. The Jayhawks lost four of their first seven that year, but went 22-4 and won the Big 12 title before getting upset by Bradley in the NCAA tournament.
The last time Kansas lost four non-conference games was 2008-09, when they fell to Michigan State, UMass, Arizona and Syracuse. The Jayhawks didn't lose their fourth last year until Feb. 9.