Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers give up lead late in loss to No. 2 Kansas

Indiana Basketball was defeated by the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, 75-71. 

Dec 16, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) boxes out Kansas
Dec 16, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) boxes out Kansas / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Assembly Hall was electric for a game circled on calendars across Indiana. The Hoosiers gave it everything they had against the second-ranked team in the nation. Ultimately, the Jayhawks proved too challenging and stole a win on the road, breaking the hearts of the Indiana faithful. The victory marked Kansas’ first-ever win in Assembly Hall. 

Indiana came out with energy and began the game red-hot. They took an early 8-2 lead, which forced Kansas coach Bill Self to use a timeout less than three minutes in. The Hoosiers continued to make shots as Malik Renuau nailed his first two threes. Mackenzie Mgabko was highly aggressive on the offensive end, hitting an “and-1" scoop shot and connecting from behind the arc. Add Trey Galloway's driving layups and effortless floater, and Indiana went into halftime with a solid 40-32 lead. 

Despite the eight-point advantage, however, Mike Woodson and his squad felt they should’ve been up more after twenty minutes. The Hoosiers got in foul trouble early, with Reneau and Mgbako having to sit on the bench for extended minutes after each picking up two fouls. 

“We had Malik and Mackenzie in foul trouble after we built the lead, Woodson said. “You had to pull them and prolong the game. I thought that was somewhat the difference, too.”

Gabe Cupps also had two personals in the first half, and Kaleb Banks had three of his own. Indiana also committed nine turnovers in the first half, many of which were in transition. The Hoosiers struggled in the fast break and left many points on the table in this category. If Indiana limited their fouls and turnovers, they may have been looking at a much more prominent lead at the half. 

At the beginning of the second half, Indiana could maintain its advantage. After Kansas cut the Hoosier lead down to five, Mgabko and Galloway hit back-to-back threes to put IU back up by 11. Indiana kept a double-digit lead going into the under-12 timeout, 54-44. Kansas struggled to shoot for about 28 minutes of the contest, but it was only a matter of time before the nation’s second-best team caught fire. 

The Jayhawks went on an 18-7 run and took their first lead, 62-61, with just under five minutes to play. The teams traded buckets and were tied at 64 with 3:51 to go. Kansas scored on their next two possessions with a McCullar Jr. three-ball and a Dickinson left-handed hook. The Jayhawks’ star duo shined down the stretch and helped them maintain their lead for the rest of the game. Despite a clutch three from Galloway to cut the Kansas lead to two with 54 seconds left, Kansas got the defensive stops and hit the free throws they needed to win.

The Hoosiers wouldn’t have been able to stay in the game without Trey Galloway’s incredible play. The senior guard had a disappointing start to the season but finally broke out with a career-best 28 points. He shot 12-17 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc in 38 minutes. 

“I encourage him to play hard and do the things I think he’s capable of doing,” Woodson said about Galloway. “Tonight, he finally displayed that. I don’t think anybody’s holding Trey back. He had a hell of a game.”

For the Jayhawks, it was a balanced scoring effort, as four of their five starters scored in double figures. Hunter Dickinson had 17 points and 14 rebounds to break his three-game losing streak to Indiana. KJ Adams Jr. contributed 14 points on 50% from the field. Kevin McCullar Jr. shot a poor 3-11 from the field but made 13 of his 16 free throw attempts to finish with 21 points. 

It was a tale of two halves in Bloomington. The Jayhawks shot 35.3% from the field in the first half but 51.9% in the second. On the contrary, the Hoosiers shot an impressive 53.8% in half number one but were a mere 33.3% in half number two. Indiana will need to shoot more consistently across forty minutes to win some big games in conference play.

Despite a heartbreaking loss, Indiana was resilient and gave it their all against the star-studded Jayhawks. 

“It’s the first game we’ve had where we didn’t cave,” Woodson said. “We didn’t make the plays defensively we needed to make. It’s a game we can build on, especially when you come out of a game like the Auburn game.”

The Hoosiers will look to build on their excellent effort as they finish up their non-conference schedule and prepare for the bulk of Big Ten play. Indiana’s next contest is Tuesday against the Morehead State Eagles at Assembly Hall.