Kansas basketball can’t play down to competition again on the road against Indiana

Kansas basketball can’t play down to its competition again if the Jayhawks want to escape Bloomington, Indiana, with a victory.

Kansas coach Bill Self looks back at his bench after a play in the second half of Friday's game
Kansas coach Bill Self looks back at his bench after a play in the second half of Friday's game / Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA

While Kansas sits at 9-1 with an AP Top 25 ranking of No. 2 in the nation, there have been times that the Jayhawks haven’t been so impressive. Even with marquee wins over teams such as UConn, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Bill Self and the Jayhawks had trouble putting away lowly mid-majors like Eastern Illinois and UMKC.

In last week’s edition of the Border War, KU trailed 15-6 nine minutes into the contest. It wasn’t until they went on a 20-2 run to end the first half that things started to really click. That isn’t the first time the team has looked discombobulated for long stretches.

The Jayhawks have gotten away with playing sloppy for the most part — after all, the home-court advantage that Allen Fieldhouse gives them is unmatched. But now that they are traveling to an opposing team’s home arena for the first time this season, Kansas will have a smaller margin for error in today’s matinee showdown.

Indiana fans are planning to hold a “stripe out,” meaning different crowd sections will alternate T-shirt colors between IU’s primary colors (cream and crimson). Hoosier fans will be rowdy and loud, and Mike Woodson is looking for revenge after the 84-62 beatdown his squad received one year ago.

Believe it or not, Kansas basketball has never topped Indiana in Assembly Hall. IU leads the all-time series at 8-7 and they have won all three games in Assembly. They might not be the program they once were but with talented players like Kel’el Ware, Malik Reneau, Xavier Johnson, and former KU recruiting target Mackenzie Mgbako.

There are plenty of storylines to follow tonight, including Hunter Dickinson’s return to the Big Ten. This might wind up being the most exciting game of the Jayhawks’ nonconference slate. Kansas will be tested significantly today and can’t let this game slip through its fingers.