Kentucky-Indiana Preview

Kentucky-Indiana Preview

Published Dec. 8, 2011 6:00 p.m. ET

Kentucky strengthened its claim as the top team in the nation with an impressive win its last time out.

While Indiana is still a ways away from reasserting itself as one of the country's more prominent programs, the Hoosiers could take a big step in that direction Saturday.

On the verge of its best start in 22 seasons, Indiana takes on the No. 1 Wildcats in Bloomington as this storied series gets renewed with both teams undefeated.

Kentucky (8-0) seems all but certain to provide the first true test for the Hoosiers (8-0), who haven't opened 9-0 since winning their first 10 games in 1989-90. Indiana has faced only one major conference opponent and that game was their closest win, 86-75 at North Carolina State on Nov. 30.


While the Wildcats are holding teams to 57.0 points per game and a nation-low 32.6 percent from the field, the Hoosiers are one of the highest-scoring teams in college basketball with an average of 85.0 points. Kentucky isn't far behind at 82.4.

What is sure to be an electric crowd at Assembly Hall could make things difficult on the Wildcats, who have yet play an official road game. Kentucky, though, hopes to carry over the momentum it created last Saturday after beating then-No. 5 North Carolina 73-72.

The Wildcats escaped with the victory as freshman Anthony Davis blocked the potential game-winning shot with nine seconds remaining.

"We felt like this was a good test to see where we're at against one of the best teams in the country," said senior Darius Miller, who scored 12 points off the bench. "We came out with a W. I think we're all pretty happy about it."

Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the team with 17 points and a season-high 11 rebounds while sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones each scored 14. Lamb, though, committed four turnovers, matching his total from the previous seven games.

"I've got good players. We're young, we're inexperienced, but I have really good players," said coach John Calipari, who starts two sophomores and three freshmen.

The Wildcats own a 31-23 advantage in this all-time series which dates to 1924. These programs are meeting for the 42nd straight year and Kentucky has taken 14 of the last 17, including each of the last three by at least 17 points.

With a six-day layoff, the Wildcats should be well rested for the Hoosiers, whose five national championships are tied with the Tar Heels for third-most behind UCLA's 11 and Kentucky's seven.

Indiana went a Big Ten-worst 28-66 over the previous three seasons under coach Tom Crean, but his recruits hope to be starting a resurgence for a program which was left in shambles from a recruiting scandal under former coach Kelvin Sampson.

"It's a player-driven team now. I think it's a different team this year," senior guard Verdell Jones III said.

The Hoosiers are back on the rise thanks largely to highly touted freshman Cody Zeller. The 6-foot-11 forward leads the team with 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, providing Indiana with a legitimate post presence.

Zeller, one of five Hoosiers averaging double-digit points, scored a game-high 16 to go along with seven boards, four steals and a season-best four blocks in Sunday's 84-50 win over Stetson.

"Cody just continues to get better and he continues to show that there's a lot of room for improvement in him as well," Crean said.

Indiana has dropped 24 of 26 versus Top 25 opponents, getting outscored by an average of 16.9 points in the defeats.

Kentucky lost six of its final eight road games versus unranked teams last season - five by two points or fewer.