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Kansas picked first in Big 12 poll

In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, Kansas head coach Bill Self addresses the crowd during Late Night in the Phog, Kansas' annual NCAA college basketball kickoff at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (Nick Krug/The Lawrence Journal-World via AP)

IRVING, Texas (AP) Kansas has been tabbed as the favorite to win the Big 12 men's basketball title, the season after the end of the Jayhawks' NCAA record run of winning the conference 14 years in a row.

League coaches picked Kansas to finish ahead of Baylor and Texas Tech, which last year made it to the NCAA championship game before losing to Virginia in overtime. Texas was picked fourth in the poll released Thursday, followed by West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU.

Kansas coach Bill Self returns three starters, including senior center Udoka Azubuike, who was picked as the Big 12 preseason player of the year.

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Howard talks up Michigan at media day

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) When asked if anything about his new job has surprised him, Michigan coach Juwan Howard mentioned recruiting.

"I knew you have to recruit, but all the work that comes behind the recruiting. Like I haven't talked on the phone in years. What we all do now is just text, right? Or email," Howard said. "I've been on the phone sometimes with recruits for like 30 minutes. ... You've got to do a really good job with your text game, too. A lot of kids like to text."

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UK favorite in SEC for ninth year in row

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Kentucky is once again the favorite to win the Southeastern Conference men's basketball title and Florida forward Kerry Blackshear is the preseason pick as player of the year.

It's the ninth consecutive year the Wildcats are picked to win the league and 15th time since the 1998-99 season. The predictions announced Tuesday were made in voting by SEC and national media members.

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Louisville's Slazinski has appendicitis

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Chris Mack says forward Quinn Slazinski has been hospitalized with appendicitis that might require surgery.

Asked after the team's annual tipoff luncheon Wednesday whether he'd redshirt the 6-foot-8, 215-pound freshman, Mack said Slazinski was in a hospital with the illness and receiving antibiotics.

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Izzo welcomes expectations for Spartans

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Tom Izzo's 25th team at Michigan State might be one of his best.

All-America guard Cassius Winston is one of four returning starters from last season's team that won the Big Ten title and advanced to the Final Four.

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Pearl 'confident' in NCAA process

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The Latest on Southeastern Conference men's basketball media day (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

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Expectations high for Ga. Tech's Edwards

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The Latest on Southeastern Conference men's basketball Media Day (all times local):

11 a.m.

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Athletes graduating at record high rate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Graduation rates among college athletes continue to hit record highs.

The NCAA's most recent statistics, released Wednesday, show 89% of all athletes who enrolled in college in 2012 earned degrees, an increase of 1 percentage point over last year's all-time high. That's nearly 10 percentage points above the 80% goal the late NCAA President Myles Brand established when the governing body first started calculating this measure in 2002.

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Memphis, Houston share top spot in AAC

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Houston and Memphis share the top spot in the American Athletic Association's preseason basketball coaches' poll.

The Cougars and Tigers finished with 113 points. Houston received seven first-place votes, while Memphis got four first-place votes in the poll released Monday at the conference's media day in Philadelphia.

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Calhoun denies sex discrimination claims

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Calhoun is denying allegations of sexual discrimination made by a former associate athletic director at the University of Saint Joseph, the Division III school where he now works.

Calhoun says in a statement released Saturday by the school that he never "knowingly treated any woman unfairly because of her gender" and he fully supports women's rights and equality.

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