Two prominent programs will renew acquaintances when No. 14 Indiana travels to No. 8 Kansas for Saturday’s non-conference showdown at Lawrence, Kan.
It will be the first time the teams have met at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on the Kansas campus since Dec. 22, 1993, when the Roy Williams-coached Jayhawks prevailed 86-83 in overtime.
“It’ll be fun to get them back in the Fieldhouse,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday. “Last time they were in (the building) was one of the most historic games ever in the Fieldhouse. Hopefully this will have the same atmosphere, preferably with the same result.”
Indiana leads the series 8-6 and won the most recent meeting — 103-99 in overtime on Nov. 11, 2016 — in Honolulu.
The Hoosiers (8-2) will seek a bounce-back performance when they face the Jayhawks (9-1) after falling 89-75 to then-No. 10 Arizona on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Arizona rattled off 17 straight first-half points to lead by 19 and establish control while sending Indiana to its second loss in three games.
Hoosiers coach Mike Woodson is aware his club can’t allow a similar thing to happen vs. Kansas.
“We’re going to have to go in there and commit to 40 minutes, do it on both ends of the floor and see what happens,” Woodson said Thursday. “I know one thing: We can’t come out and start a game like we did against Arizona and dig a hole and expect to win. That was tough the other night.
“We fought back and did a lot of good things. Against good teams you got to be in the game early, give yourself a chance.”
The Jayhawks have won three straight games since losing to then-No. 22 Tennessee 64-50 on Nov. 25 in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game in the Bahamas.
Kansas produced a 95-67 road victory over old Big 12-rival Missouri on Saturday as Jalen Wilson recorded 24 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin McCullar Jr. scored a season-best 21 points.
Wilson has been superb, with six 20-point outings and six double-doubles this season. He has 22 career double-doubles, tying him for ninth in school history.
Wilson is averaging 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a game. Gradey Dick is scoring 15.4 points per game and McCullar is at 11.8.
Despite the solid trio, Self is concerned about battling the Hoosiers, who count North Carolina as one of their victims this season. The Tar Heels lost to Kansas in last season’s title game.
“Their style is very sound. They guard. They don’t give up easy baskets,” Self said of Indiana. “They make you score over the top. They are big compared to us.”
The Hoosiers are led by All-America big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has team-best averages of 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Jackson-Davis has struggled of late by averaging just 12 points over the past three games, a span that began with a 63-48 loss to Rutgers. He matched his season low of 11 points in the loss to Arizona on Saturday.
Xavier Johnson (10.9 points) is the only other Indiana player scoring in double digits.
Woodson expects a battle and said his players need to embrace the challenge. He also noted the success Kansas has had at home (294-16) during Self’s 20 seasons.
“You’re playing on their floor in front of a hostile environment,” Woodson said. “It’s kind of what you live for when you play basketball in college. You can’t run from it.
“I just try to get our players to understand that, ‘Hey, you got to seize the moment.’ This is a big-time game, it really is. You got a chance to go in and do something that a lot of teams hadn’t done in years there.”
–Field Level Media