Kansas favored in Big 12

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas coach Bill Self says his Big 12
coaching buddies aren't doing him any favors by picking his
Jayhawks to win the conference title.
But the Jayhawks return all but one player from the team that
won 33 games a year ago and lost to UCLA in the regional final of
the NCAA tournament. They seem to deserve the favorite's label.
The Jayhawks should be comfortable with the favorite's role,
since they're going for their fourth straight regular-season title.
One question mark is whether junior guard Brandon Rush will be
fully recovered from the ACL surgery that knocked him out of the
NBA draft in June.
Rush was their leading scorer the past two seasons but won't be
cleared for contact until at least December 1st.
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Texas faces life without Kevin Durant, its national player of
the year last season. The Longhorns are hoping for big things from
top recruit Gary Johnson. The 6-foot-7 forward was diagnosed with
an unspecified heart condition in May.
The preseason poll says Texas will have the league's player of
the year in sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin.
----
Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon is one of three new head coaches in
the league. He has to replace a top player in point guard Acie Law.
One player who could take up the slack is 6-9 senior Joseph Jones.
Jones averaged almost 14 points and seven rebounds last year as the
Aggies won a school-record 27 games.
----
Kansas State also has a new coach in Frank Martin, who replaces
Bob Huggins.
The Wildcats have Michael Beasley, the 6-9 freshman who may be
the most heralded recruit other than Durant to come into the Big
12. They also has 6-6 Bill Walker, a brilliant athlete who played
just six games last year before tearing his ACL and undergoing
surgery.
----
The league's other new coach is Jeff Bzdelik, who was hired away
from Air Force to replace Ricardo Patton at Colorado after a
miserable 7-20 season.
----
Nebraska has the league's top returning scorer and rebounder in
6-11 Aleks Maric, who averaged almost 19 points and nine rebounds a
game.

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(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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