A nice opening night for college basketball was punctuated by an overtime affair between two teams who proved they have the goods to qualify for a Final Four come April.
An incredibly entertaining -- and scrambled -- game in Hawaii went to OT, with 11th-ranked Indiana knocking off No. 3 Kansas 103-99 in the Armed Forces Classic on Friday. The game was fun and full of offense ... but it was also a foul-fest. There were 63 fouls, a number that only a few other games might approach matching this season. The fouls and overtime extended the game more than an hour past its expected finish. Kansas had to scramble to make its plane on time.
KU's Frank Mason fouled out with 16.5 left in OT with 30 points. He was the player responsible for even getting KU to OT. But it's Indiana that gets a huge win to kick off its season, led by James Blackmon Jr.'s 26 points.
Thoughts on the game and both teams, and there's plenty to get to. Those 45 minutes showed us a lot.
Indiana's offense is going to be among the sport's best
The defense, hopefully, comes around. That's what happened for IU last year and eventually put the team in position to be Sweet 16-caliber. At the very least, OG Anunoby will make for a good landlord.
Indiana's OG Anunoby with a monster block. pic.twitter.com/BNnRb8vQ2j— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) November 12, 2016
Offense? It's already there and poised to be among the most fluid and beautiful in college hoops this year. IU's ball movement, it's just a clinic. Tom Crean has all of his players moving constantly, almost anyone on the floor can take shots from mid-range and beyond -- and a lot of them want to take big-boy shots.
The positionless scheme works with this personnel. Crean has something with a lot of potential here. Thomas Bryant -- a big man! -- was stepping out and cashing buckets from deep. The Hoosiers won this game thanks to 15-of-31 shooting from 3-point range. An incredible clip against a top-three team and it being the opening game of the season in a faraway spot.
"That was a March game," Crean said on ESPN afterward. "We found a way to win against a GREAT team, a team I thought was really good, and they've even better than that."
You know the team is going to be good when Yogi Ferrell, who is one of the best Indiana players of the past 15 years and was on last year's team, said this squad is even better.
This team now has way more talent than we did last year, watch out #iubb— Kevin Yogi Ferrell (@YogiFerrell11) November 12, 2016
Frank Mason could wind up as Kansas' MVP
There's a lot to be excited about for Kansas fans. Josh Jackson, the standout freshman, had some nice moments. Svy Mykhailiuk came off the bench to score 12. The balance of Kansas' attack was strong, but Mason made it clear, at least for tonight, that this team will be his to lead. He took control in the final minute of regulation, baiting Indiana into fouls on two occasions and getting the score tied. His foul shots with 2.3 seconds left sent the game to overtime. made both to send to OT
Prior to the run, Indiana was at the foul line with a chance to get a seven-point lead with less than a minute to go. Couldn't close it there.
Blackmon hit two foul shots -- after Devonte' Graham fouled out -- to give IU the 89-87 lead, but Mason came back to get it to an extra session.
Gotta say, Mason looked determined and poised. Graham is a great backcourt mate, of course, but this will probably become Mason's team.
Fouls were a problem, and some of it's on the refs
When you've got 63 fouls in 45 minutes, a lot of the blame goes to the teams and the coaches. College basketball on the whole has to get used to tighter whistles. Those whistles will lead to a cleaner, faster, freer game. But I watched this one from start to finish. A number of the calls weren't correct. Some that were called fouls in fact featured defensive plays wherein a player got all ball. Others were ticky-tack at best.
It was probably closers to a 50-foul game, and that makes a different. Mason, Bryant, Graham, Anunoby, Landen Lucas, Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson all fouled out. It speaks to how entertaining the game was, how good the shots were and how so many players showed up to compete, that the foul total didn't totally overshadow what was a hard-fought and offensively oriented game. There were 88 possessions.
Kansas now has to rally. Its next game comes on Tuesday in the Champions Classic in New York City. The opponent? The top-ranked team in the country. Duke. The Jayhawks could actually wind up being a team with realistic hopes of winning a national championship, yet would start the season 0-2. If that happened, it would be extremely rare.
Indiana's next foe is UMass Lowell on Wednesday.