Coming off a loss in Las Vegas about a week ago, the Hoosiers will look to bounce back in Lawrence, Kansas against the defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks. The game will air at noon Saturday and will be broadcasted on ESPN2 as part of a loaded college basketball slate.
It will certainly be a tough turnaround for IU, as going to a hostile environment such as Allen Fieldhouse is never easy. Although the Jayhawks lost some of their supporting cast from last year’s championship team, Bill Self and company are fully confident that this year’s team can replicate last year’s success. Here’s a closer look at Kansas.
Taking a look at the Jayhawks
A big reason why Kansas believes it can go back to the championship is the return of a core piece of last year’s team — preseason All-Big 12 superstar Jalen Wilson, who is the team leader in average points per game with 22.1. Wilson is one of the best in the country at finishing at the basket, as well as being able to create his own shot off the dribble. Being the threat that he is from all over the place offensively, whoever is guarding him on IU will have to keep an eye on him at all times.
Gradey Dick has also been a huge reason why the Jayhawks are having the early success they are this season. The freshman from Wichita complements Wilson very well, as Wilson will often kick it out to Dick, who is shooting at a 45% clip from 3-point range so far this season. These two along with senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. make up a Kansas offense that will be a challenge for the Indiana defense to stop.
That offense has certainly found its groove recently, scoring 85+ points in their past three games. A big part of this is the Jayhawks have picked up their pace and started to play a lot faster on offense, which is a big reason why they are in the top 35 in the country in total fastbreak points. So certainly transition defense will be one of many keys for Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
Keys for the Hoosiers
Signs have been pointing to a possible Jalen Hood-Schifino appearance Saturday. Hood-Schifino has missed the past two games due to back injuries, but it looks like we could see a return for the star freshman guard at Allen Fieldhouse. If he plays, I look for Mike Woodson to ease him in a little bit back from injury, but he will still nonetheless play a big role in Saturday’s game.
Secondly, I look for a big game from Trayce Jackson-Davis in this one. The Jayhawks’ tallest forward in their starting five is actually Wilson at 6-foot-8, but I could definitely see Self making adjustments to his starting lineup. But after struggling against Arizona’s very tall frontcourt, I think we need to see a dominant game from Jackson-Davis, one similar to his performance against Xavier.
Finally, in Indiana’s two losses, players have really gotten in foul trouble early in the game. They cannot afford to hand a team like Kansas points at the free-throw line, as playing in Allen Fieldhouse by itself will be hard enough. The Hoosiers also cannot afford to have anyone in their starting five get in foul trouble, as it will take a total team effort to beat the Jayhawks Saturday afternoon.