What to Expect: Indiana vs. Kansas

  • 12/14/2023 7:42 am in

Indiana returns to action Saturday afternoon against Kansas at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are coming off a humbling 104-76 loss against Auburn in Atlanta.

Saturday’s game will tip at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS:

The return game of Indiana’s home-and-home with Kansas is on tap for Saturday in Bloomington. The Jayhawks, currently ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, are 9-1 with a 14-point loss to Marquette in the Maui Invitational.

The contest is Indiana’s last chance for a meaningful win in the non-conference. The Hoosiers are currently ranked outside the top 75 in the KenPom rankings and don’t own a win over a team currently projected to make the NCAA tournament field.


A popular preseason Final Four pick, Kansas is once again an elite team under Bill Self. The Jayhawks aren’t deep, ranking 343rd in percentage of bench minutes according to KenPom. But this is a veteran team with extremely productive pieces throughout the starting lineup.

The Kansas offense is heavy in terms of post-ups. With Hunter Dickinson in the post, the Jayhawks rank in the 80th percentile in post-up volume, according to Synergy Sports, and in the 97th percentile in post-up efficiency.

Kansas leads the country in assist percentage (defined by assists divided by made field goals) at 73. According to Synergy, the Jayhawks are shooting 41.9 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, which ranks in the 96th percentile nationally. Kansas is scoring 14.9 points per game off of cuts, which leads the country.

The duo of Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. leads Self’s team and both are off to All-American caliber starts. The 7-foot-2 Dickinson spent his first three seasons at Michigan before transferring to Lawrence in the offseason, while McCullar, a fifth-year guard, transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas before last season.

Dickinson leads Kansas in scoring (19.4 ppg), rebounds (12.6 per game) and blocks (1.3 per game). The veteran big man is shooting 63.7 percent from the field, 57.9 percent on 3s and 73.5 percent from the free throw line in 31.3 minutes per game. He’s also avoiding foul trouble. Dickinson has only committed 16 fouls in 10 games.

The 6-foot-7 McCullar is averaging 19 points, 7.1 rebounds and five assists in 33.8 minutes per game. He’s got a team-high 13 steals and has connected on a team-high 44 free throws. McCullar shot just 29.6 percent on 3s last season but is connecting at a 40.6 percent clip this season.

Rounding out the starting lineup are veterans KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris Jr., along with freshman Elmarko Jackson.

The 6-foot-7 Adams is one of the most underappreciated players in college basketball. The 6-foot-7 big man from Austin, Texas, averages 12.9 points on 67.9 percent shooting. He’s undersized at the four but consistently makes the little plays that contribute to winning.

Harris, the team’s point guard, averages seven assists and plays a team-high 34.5 minutes per game. He’s 9-for-20 on 3s, but his primary role is running the team, playing stellar defense at the point of attack and limiting mistakes. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7-to-1 is solid.

Jackson, a five-star recruit in the 2023 class and McDonald’s All-American, has started all 10 games. The South Kent School (Conn.) product averages 6.2 points on 37.8 percent shooting in 23.5 minutes per game.

The four names to know off the bench are freshmen Johnny Furphy and Jamari McDowell, along with Nicolas Timberlake, who transferred from Towson, and Parker Braun, who transferred from Santa Clara.

Furphy is a 6-foot-9 forward from Australia who can stretch the floor. He’s 12-for-30 on 3s and is the leading reserve scorer at 5.7 points per game. McDowell is a 6-foot-4 guard who plays spot backup minutes behind Jackson.

Timberlake was considered a prize transfer portal pickup but is a dismal 7-for-24 on 3s in 10 games. Braun provides depth behind Dickinson at the five and has legitimate size at 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds.


All stats are via KenPom.com and are updated through Tuesday’s games.

The Jayhawks are an elite defensive team, ranking seventh nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Of concern for Indiana: Kansas opponents have managed to shoot just 42 percent on 2s. Kentucky shot just 34.2 percent on 2s against Kansas, as did Tennessee. The Jayhawks held UConn to just 42.9 percent shooting on 2s. Given how post-centric Indiana’s offense is, the Hoosiers must shoot much better than Jayhawk opponents have averaged inside the 3-point line.

Another strength for Kansas is keeping its opponents off the free-throw line. Kansas ranks 15th in the country in opponent free throw rate (FTA/FGA) at just 22.6 percent. Indiana’s primary strength offensively is getting to the line. The Hoosiers rank eighth in the country in free throw rate at 48 percent.

Offensively, Kansas is connected and committed to its game plan. The offense moves the ball well and plays to its strengths: posting the ball up with Dickinson and getting good looks off cuts. Kansas doesn’t take many 3s – the Jayhawks rank just 322nd in 3-point volume – but are shooting 40.3 percent from deep. Indiana will need to be much tougher and connected defensively than it was in Saturday’s blowout loss to Auburn in Atlanta.


This is Indiana’s last chance for a meaningful non-conference win and a victory against the Jayhawks could change the direction of the season in a meaningful way.

The KenPom projection is Kansas by six with a 29 percent of an IU victory.

Saturday marks an opportunity for Indiana to show real progress after being blown out against UConn and Auburn in the season’s first two marquee non-conference matchups. The Hoosiers have a full week to prepare, should have an excellent crowd and atmosphere and have a chance to flip the narrative of a season that doesn’t appear to be headed in a positive direction.

This is Kansas’s first true road game this season and Assembly Hall always has extra juice for matchups like this. Despite all of that, there’s a lot for Indiana to overcome to emerge victorious. The duo of Dickinson and McCullar is among the best in the country, and Self is one of the best, if not the best, coaches in the country.

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