The Kansas Jayhawks welcomed the Indiana Hoosiers to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a battle of blue blood college basketball programs, but only one team walked out of the contest looking legendary.
KU jumped out to a quick lead, never relented and cruised to victory, blowing out 14th-ranked IU 84-62.
The win gets the eighth-ranked Jayhawks to 10-1 on the season, while the Hoosiers have now lost three of four and are 8-3 overall.
Kansas has now defeated three major conference teams in a row by at least 22 points, including a blowout road win in a rivalry game last weekend against Missouri. But while the Border War win was impressive, Kansas coach Bill Self thought the victory over Indiana showed off an even more impressive side of his program.
“I thought we played better today than we did against Missouri,” Self said.
Six Jawhawks scored in double figures in the win, including the entire starting lineup, while a pair of players also recorded double-doubles. But while the offensive numbers could be classified as anything from “impressive” to “gaudy,” it was KU’s defensive effort that proved to be the game’s dominant force.
Kansas limited Indiana to 37.7% shooting from the floor as a team and just 31.6% (6-of-19) from three-point range. The Jayhawks were +9 in turnover margin, too, forcing 23 Hoosier giveaways compared to just 14 of their own.
Seventeen of those 23 takeaways were steals and all five KU starters had at least two steals, led by five apiece from senior guard Kevin McCullar and freshman guard Gradey Dick.
“That’s the best we’ve defended, I think, all year,” Self said.
It was a strong effort in general for the Kansas defense, but its collective effort against preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis that stood out the most.
Jackson-Davis entered this weekend averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 64.5% from the field. KU held him to just 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and rendered nearly entirely in the first half as it got out to its hot start. He didn’t score his first points until just 1:29 remained in the first half.
“That was one of our main focuses, to try to slow him down,” junior guard DaJuan Harris said.
Dick led the way offensively for KU, scoring a game-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 4-of-5 from three, along with six rebounds to go with his five steals.
Between his offensive prowess and impact defensive plays, Self said Saturday was probably the best all-around game Dick has played this season.
Three Jayhawks racked up 11 points in the victory, including junior senior guard McCullar, junior forward Jalen Wilson and sophomore forward K.J. Adams.
McCullar picked up his second double-double of the year and fifth of his career against Indiana, adding 11 rebounds to his 11 points. For Adams, it was his fourth game in a row reaching double figures in points, and he was the catalyst for the Jayhawks’ attack early the in the game, scoring the first seven points of the day.
Kansas earned the blowout victory despite an uncharacteristically off game from Wilson. Eleven points is a season-low and he shot just 4-of-18 for the game, though he did add eight rebounds.
Harris and sophomore guard Bobby Pettiford Jr. were the other double-figure scorers for KU, scoring 10 points each. Pettiford received recognition from Self after the game along with freshman forward Zuby Ejiofor for playing important minutes off the bench.
Meanwhile, Self continued what has become consistent, effusive praise for Harris.
“I can’t imagine there’s a more underrated player in the country than what Juan is,” Self said.
Harris went scoreless in the first half but found some momentum in the middle of the second, scoring three straight baskets at one point thanks to something exploitable in the IU defense.
“We knew that their bigs back off on ball screens,” Harris said, adding: “We got an easy shot every time.”
He also dished out 10 assists against the Indiana, tying a career high he set against Duke earlier this season.
Jackson-Davis came close to a double-double on the losing side, adding a career-high nine blocks to his 13 points. Self said that at one point in the second half, it seemed that the Hoosiers’ best offense was a block followed by running the floor with numbers in transition.
By virtue of this weekend’s win, the KU has now drawn even with Indiana in their all-time series with 7 wins apiece.
After finishing off their most-anticipated stretch of nonconference games, the Jayhawks have one more non-league tilt before the start of Big 12 play. That’s coming up on Thursday, Dec. 22 at home against the Harvard Crimson, with tip scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
Click below to hear from Bill Self and the Jayhawks following their 84-62 win over the Indiana Hoosiers.