Indiana wasn’t really given too much of a chance here.
After an absolute drubbing by Auburn in Atlanta you’d expect something here at Assembly Hall. To their credit, the Hoosiers delivered for most of the game.
Indiana was in control throughout the first half and a good deal of the second. Kansas couldn’t string buckets together and when it did there was an answer. Until there wasn’t.
Trey Galloway whiffed on a jumper to extend the lead back into the double digits and the Jayhawks’ Johnny Furphy went up for the board.
Guarding a fastbreak, Mackenzie Mgbako was called for his fourth foul of the night off a drive by Kevin McCullar. Out went Mgbako, in went Kaleb Banks. Sought after by both programs this past summer, he hit a few key 3-pointers to keep the momentum in Indiana’s favor.
Without him, that went out the window. Including McCullar’s free throws, Kansas went on a 14-5 run. Hoosiers kept missing shots and Kansas got enough second chances to seize a lead five five minutes to go.
The sides traded twos until McCullar made the play of the night with a 3-pointer at the crest of the arc. Hunter Dickinson got a defensive rebound on the other end and scored to push the lead to five as the Jayhawks seized control of the game.
Indiana didn’t have an answer late. Nothing.
Dickinson, a familiar foe, had been booed all night with some added emphasis following an airball from just outside the paint. When it mattered most, it was he who helped push the Jayhawks over the finish line. Which, all things considered, is a rough outcome for Indiana. One of the sport’s preeminent villains getting revenge after getting swept last year with Michigan.
There’s a few broad takeaways here.
- Indiana will leave nonconference play without a quality win. It is now paramount to avoid losing a buy game at all costs so the early slate isn’t a total wash. Without too many strong teams in the conference so far, Indiana may be out of chances already.
- It’s has now lost multiple major nonconference matchups the past two years. Xavier on the road was impressive last year with the team at full strength but North Carolina absolutely collapsed after falling in Assembly Hall.
- Indiana has closed out before, against Purdue at home last year and Michigan this year, but this one is going to sting for a while.
Anything on the bright side?
- Indiana played an incredibly strong first half with a true freshman running the point. Bill Self even said they couldn’t affect him throughout the game and he’ll be extremely valuable off the bench once Xavier Johnson returns.
- Assembly Hall still has Juice and there’s enough matchups where it can, and will, bring that energy to the table.
As I stated above, this one is going to sting. It’s one thing to get outclassed for 40 minutes on a neutral court but another entirely to let a game slip away at home with more energy from the crowd than you’ll get for all but one game this season.
Indiana has some figuring out to do, especially when it comes to building up a tournament resume.