BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Joe and Jordan Crawford used to play
basketball for family bragging rights.
Now the reward could include Top 25 rankings and national
Perhaps that's why the Crawfords spent this week putting their
regular phone calls and sibling rivalry on hold, opting instead for
the motivation of winning one of the nation's most prestigious
college rivalries: No. 15 Indiana vs. Kentucky.
"There is going to be a little bit of trash talking, but I am
trying not to make this an individual battle," said Jordan
Crawford, the Hoosiers' freshman guard. "This is way bigger than
that. Kentucky versus Indiana, it's a big game."
The brother-against-brother subplot has suddenly taken center
stage in this heated border contest.
Joe Crawford recently joined Kentucky's 1,000-point club and has
become a focal point of the Hoosiers' defensive approach, while the
younger Crawford is returning from a three-game suspension imposed
by Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson for violating team rules.
Jordan Crawford's return couldn't come at a better time for the
Hoosiers (7-1), who have lacked depth in the backcourt and will now
see top scorer Eric Gordon play with a bruised lower back he
sustained in a hard fall Monday night.
So which Crawford is better?
"There are some similarities, as far as moves and stuff like
that," Joe Crawford said when asked to compare their freshman
seasons. "He's really skinny, though, so he won't overpower anyone
even though he thinks he can."
But that discussion can continue at the next family dinner.
They'd rather talk about the significance of Indiana-Kentucky, a
series that has included a myriad of embarrassing moments over the
There was the time Mike Davis ran onto the court and berated an
official and another time when he said he wasn't the right man for
the job after losing to the Wildcats. Davis was also at the helm
when Indiana suffered its worst loss ever in the series, 80-41, in
Two years later, Davis avenged the defeat by handing Kentucky
its worst loss in the 50-game series, 79-53. It was the only time
Davis ever beat the Wildcats in his six-year tenure.
When Sampson arrived in Bloomington last year, many Hoosiers
fans hoped it would start a new trend. Instead, the Hoosiers lost
59-54, their 11th defeat in 13 years to Kentucky.
Now, the tables have turned.
Kentucky (4-2) is getting acclimated to a new coach. Billy
Gillispie will get his first taste of the rivalry.
Traditionally, the game has been played either in Louisville or
Indianapolis with the tickets split evenly. But because of a
conflict in Louisville last season, the game was moved to Rupp
Arena and now Kentucky is visiting Jordan Crawford's new home,
Assembly Hall, for the first time since December 1990.
"I can relate to what Billy has been going through early,"
Sampson said. "You have a new team and new guys adjusting to him,
trying to figure out what it is they are good at. It is just
At times, the growing pains have been difficult.
There was Kentucky's inexplicable 16-point loss to Gardner-Webb
last month and another close call two weeks ago against Stony
Brook. Still, they were competitive against No. 1 North Carolina in
last week's 86-77 loss.
Not surprisingly, the elder Crawford leads the Wildcats in
scoring (18.3) and freshman forward Patrick Patterson has been
solid inside. But Kentucky has been plagued by turnovers (16.3 per
game) and must start making more 3-pointers than the 5.5 it has
averaged this season.
"I don't see this team not ever being turnover-prone,"
Gillispie said. "I don't think we are great ball handlers. I think
we hold onto the ball a little bit too long. I don't think we have
enough guys that see plays before they are about to develop. I hope
that's going to change."
Indiana (7-1), meanwhile, has thrived with a more diverse
Senior forward D.J. White has been a strong inside presence and
carried the Hoosiers when Gordon left early Monday night, while
Jordan Crawford was averaging 12.6 points before his suspension was
announced Nov. 27.
His return will force Kentucky to contend with yet another
"Jordan might have been our second-best player during that
stretch when he was in there," Sampson said.
Jordan Crawford's teammates have even called this week's game
the Crawford Bowl, much to the chagrin of the brothers who
understand there's more to it than bragging rights.
"It's our second big game in a row," Joe Crawford said. "It's
important for us to be recognized as a top-20 team."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)