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Indiana’s series with Kansas has seen national titles, heartbreak and instant classics

When Indiana and Kansas meet on Saturday in Lawrence, it will mark the 15th game in the series between the college basketball powers.

The earliest games laid the foundation for more than a half century of program greatness for IU.  In their first two head-to-head meetings, IU took down KU to claim both the 1940 and 1953 NCAA Championship crowns.

The Hoosiers jumped out to a large lead in the series, but then Kansas won five straight including some soul-crushing games in the 90s.

Here are some of the more memorable moments in a series IU leads 8-6:

MARCH 30, 1940:  In a game played in Kansas City, the Hoosiers won the program’s first national title in 1940 by a score of 60-42 behind double-figure scoring efforts from Marv Huffman (12), Jay McCreary (12), and Paul Armstrong (10).  Branch McCracken and the Hurryin’ Hoosiers ran away with it despite a heavily pro-Kansas crowd at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium.

MARCH 18, 1953:  The ’53 title came in a 69-68 win on the strength of a 30-point, 10-rebound outing from program legend Don Schlundt. Charley Kraak added a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Bob ‘Slick’ Leonard tallied 12 points and hit the game-winning free throw.  Once again, this game was played in Kansas City, in front of a heavily pro-Kansas crowd.

DECEMBER 6, 1971:  The teams established a four year home-and-home series beginning in 1971.  In just his third game as IU head coach, Bob Knight picked up his first-ever win against a ranked team with a 59-56 win over No. 14 Kansas. Steve Downing scored 22 points to lead the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall.

Indiana would go on to win the next three games from 1972 to 1974, including two games at the Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.  At this point the Hoosiers were out to a dominant 6-0 lead in the series — but things would take a dramatic turn.

DECEMBER 29, 1981:  The Hoosiers first ever loss to Kansas came in the consolation game of the ECAC Holiday Festival in New York.  When they meet on Saturday it will be Indiana taking on the defending national champs, but in this game 41 years ago it was Kansas taking on the reigning champion Hoosiers.  And 1978 Indiana Mr. Basketball David Magley torched IU for 32 points in the 71-61 Jayhawks win.

MARCH 21, 1991:  Although Indiana was the No. 2 seed, Kansas jumped the Hoosiers early in an NCAA Tournament Sweet-16 game in Charlotte.  And the Jayhawks never looked back.  KU led by 22 at halftime and in the end cruised to an 83-65 win over a Big Ten champion IU team that entered the game with a 29-4 record.  It was at the time the worst defeat for an Indiana team in a tournament game.

DECEMBER 5, 1992:  IU and Kansas inked another four-game series beginning in 1992 with games in Indianapolis, Lawrence, Bloomington and Kansas City.  This game, played at the Hoosier Dome saw the Hoosiers shoot a miserable 4-of-13 from the free throw line and lose 74-69.  Indiana was No. 2, and Kansas No. 3, and it wouldn’t be the last time they’d meet this season.

MARCH 27, 1993:  In what can only be described as one of the most difficult to stomach losses in program history, No. 1 seed Indiana lost in the Elite Eight round to Kansas 83-77.  IU dominated the Big Ten in 1993 with a 17-1 record, and they were the No. 1 team in the country when the NCAA Tournament tipped.  But an injury to star big man Alan Henderson left the Hoosiers unable to reach their peak form when it mattered most.  Kansas dominated inside and went to the Final Four.

DECEMBER 22, 1993:  The Kansas misery continued as Jayhawks freshman guard Jacque Vaughn hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in overtime to give No. 6 Kansas an 86-83 victory over No. 12 Indiana in Lawrence. It was the fifth straight time the Jayhawks had beaten the Hoosiers, and the third in a year.  Indiana’s Damon Bailey had pulled the Hoosiers into an 83-83 tie with 18.3 seconds to go with a jumper that gave him a career-high 36 points.

DECEMBER 17, 1994:  Indiana snapped a five-game series losing streak with a dominant effort in Bloomington.  Indiana was just 4-4 entering the game, including a bad showing in Maui.  But Brian Evans scored 29 points and added 12 rebounds, leading Indiana to an 80-61 win over No. 3 Kansas.  The Hoosiers used a 15-0 run to open a 39-19 advantage with just over two minutes left in the first half.

DECEMBER 16, 1995:  Future NBA players Scot Pollard and Paul Pierce led the way for No. 1-ranked Kansas at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Brian Evans led the Hoosiers with 26 points and six rebounds, while guard Neil Reed had 18 points.  But the Jayhawks had too much firepower in a 91-83 win.

NOVEMBER 11, 2016: This Armed Forces Classic game in Hawaii was hosted by the Navy. It coincided with the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Indiana’s jerseys were stitched with “Courage” on the back, while the Kansas jerseys read “Honor.”  James Blackmon, Jr. scored 22 of his 26 points after halftime and Indiana won 103-99 in overtime. “That was a March game,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “We found a way to win against a great team.”

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