Bill Self, top-seeded Jayhawks fall short again in Elite Eight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Landen Lucas buried his head in a towel as time ran out. Devonte' Graham, on the verge of tears, walked off the court with his jersey pulled up over his face. Coach Bill Self fiddled with his tie a bit and stared blankly into the crowd as his players headed toward the locker room.

Kansas came up short -- again -- as a No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks and their faithful never get used to the disappointment of losing in regional finals, but the 74-60 loss to No. 3 Oregon on Saturday night was excruciating.

It happened at the Sprint Center, the Jayhawks' home away from home 40 miles from campus. There were 18,643 fans at the game, almost all of them in blue.

The Jayhawks had blown out their first three tournament opponents by an average of 30 points. Two nights after they knocked Purdue out 98-66 in the Midwest Regional semifinal, they looked like an unstoppable force.

This is the second straight year Kansas has lost in a regional final, and since 2004, the Jayhawks have dropped five of their past seven in this round. Four of those losses happened when the Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed.

"They all stick with me, and they'll stick with the players who've been part of it," said Self, who led Kansas to a national title as a top seed in 2008. "I'm disappointed more for them than I am for me. They put us in a situation to play for the highest stakes, and today we came up short. The one thing that did happen, and it's hard to admit: The best team did win today. Today. I didn't think we put our best foot forward like we have all season long."

Last year, the Jayhawks were the No. 1 overall seed and lost in the regional final to eventual national champion Villanova in Louisville. As a No. 1 in 2011, the Jayhawks were upset by No. 11 VCU in San Antonio. In 2007, it was second-seeded UCLA that beat them in San Jose.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Self is one of four head coaches with at least eight No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, but only one of his eight No. 1 teams has reached the Final Four.

Since the 2003-04 season, Self's first at Kansas, he is tied with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski for the most losses to lower-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament, with 10, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Six of those losses came when the Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed.

Self has been favored in Vegas in eight Elite Eight games in his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has won only two of those games, and he has covered only once, in 2012 against North Carolina.

Adding insult to injury for Self and the Jayhawks: Even the Lawrence police department took a jab at the team's Elite Eight woes Saturday night.

Freshman Josh Jackson said it would take him a while to get over this one. Expected to be a one-and-done player and a high NBA draft pick, he wasn't ready to say whether this would be his last game at KU.

"I've never been in such a tough position like this and lose such an important game," he said. "It really hurts. It hurts more to see guys around me. Just seeing the seniors. We really wanted to send them out the right way. It just hurts that we couldn't do that."

The Jayhawks missed out on going to the Final Four for the first time since 2012, when they were a No. 2 seed and advanced to the title game, which they lost to Kentucky.

"I can't believe how hard our guys tried," Self said. "We just couldn't really get out of our own way today."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.