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Column: Buzz from 8-0 start must continue for UK


By Matt Smith




There is a certain buzz in the Bloomington air this week. It has been absent for what feels like an eternity, and Hoosier fans are ecstatic about its return.

The IU men’s basketball team is 8-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season. The “great future” for the program is no longer in the future because IU basketball has returned to the national spotlight.

The Hoosiers received 23 votes in this week’s Coaches’ Poll and four in the AP Poll.
IU Coach Tom Crean preached to the faithful not to give up, and fans listened, embracing his challenge. They kept the faith through tough times. Now, Hoosier Nation is being rewarded with the play on the court thus far this season.

But it is time to test the fans, and their successful completion of this task could lead to the biggest upset in IU basketball’s long, dazzling history.

Assembly Hall must be filled to the rafters Saturday when the Hoosiers play the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (8-0). Every seat. No blue. All red.

Kentucky is by far the best competition IU will play to date and quite possibly the entire season.

The play on the court has potential to be great, but the Hoosiers’ chances of winning rest on the shoulders of the fans. No matter the score, no matter who has the ball and no matter how much time is left in the half, all fans must be standing, yelling as loud as they can.

One thing has been obvious in the past four seasons: Crean’s team feeds off the energy inside Assembly Hall. When the crowd gets louder, the team seems to play
better.

The Hoosiers need each one of the 17,472 seats to be filled with red, as IU Athletics has announced it will be a “red-out.”

The matchup will be the first true road game for Kentucky, a team with only four upperclassmen on the roster. Assembly Hall is far from kind to this visitor, as the Hoosiers are 474-98 since the rivalry debuted in 1971. It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats react to the volume of the energized crowd.

IU fans should arrive early. They should scream until they cannot talk. And they must not sell their tickets to Kentucky fans, as the Wildcat fans will try to disrupt the energy of the Hoosier crowd.

On Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari took to Twitter, saying to Wildcat fans, “Don’t lose your vacation money or your kid’s scholarship fund, but if you’re buying tix to the IU game, don’t tell them you’re with UK.”

Seems to me that he is a little uneasy about the daunting task of playing in Bloomington this weekend.

He said in his next tweet, “Show up in red with blue underneath & don’t take it off until our intros. You can leave the red shirt in the arena when u leave.”

I understand a couple hundred dollars would be nice heading into the holiday season. But this is what IU basketball fans live for. Your team is back, and it needs you in the seats if you hope for an upset.

For the first time since 2006, the No. 1 team will come to the Assembly Hall. Camp Assembly Hall will be set up soon for those with general admission tickets.

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