Butler hasn’t seen Indiana since knocking off what was the No. 1 team in the country in thrilling fashion just over two years ago.
The Hoosiers are looking to pull the upset this time around.
The No. 23 Bulldogs square off against Indiana on Saturday as part of the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.
These rivals haven’t met since Butler stunned previously unbeaten Indiana 88-86 in overtime Dec. 15, 2012, in the same event. Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and Alex Barlow hit a tiebreaking 6-foot jumper with 2.4 seconds left in OT.
“He’s a tremendous driver. We didn’t do a very good job of getting him under control a couple years ago,” Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said of Jones. “We have a lot of respect for Butler, a lot of respect for how they play.
“They’re one of the more experienced teams. A lot more experienced than us. But I think our guys are excited to go in for that challenge and play in that environment. We’re excited to go.”
The Bulldogs trail the all-time series 37-14 with the teams splitting the last six meetings.
Butler (8-2) dropped eight spots in this week’s AP poll after falling 67-55 at Tennessee on Sunday, its first defeat in five games. Jones was held to six points on 2-of-9 shooting after averaging 15.0 in the previous three games.
The Bulldogs were outscored 42-21 in the second half, shot 33.3 percent overall and gave up their most points of the season. They rank among the national leaders and top the Big East with 55.5 points allowed per game.
“I think if you said, `Hey, what was the most disappointing part of the game,’ it’s the fact we got out-toughed in some areas and we just could not get a stop in the second half,” interim coach Chris Holtmann said. “We just weren’t able to do it. What has been our bread and butter through the first (part) of the season was a real liability, and that was our half-court defense.”
Butler may be able to bounce back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where it’s won seven in a row. Indiana is 0-6 against ranked opponents away from home since the start of last season.
The Hoosiers (8-2) couldn’t keep up with No. 4 Louisville in a 94-74 loss at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9, but they bounced back to beat Grand Canyon 94-66 last Saturday.
The Hoosiers outscored the Antelopes 52-35 in the second half and held a 52-35 edge on the glass after getting outrebounded 52-34 by the Cardinals. Indiana is giving up a Big Ten-worst 14.0 offensive boards per game, and Butler is pulling down 12.4 to rank among the Big East leaders.
“We still need to make strides,” Crean said. “We have to rebound the ball better. That has to become a strength for us moving forward. No question about it, rebounding will be a huge factor in the game (Saturday).”
Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. is averaging 19.2 points to lead all freshmen while shooting 49.6 percent. He is shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range despite going 2 of 13 in the last two games.