SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Earl Calloway will be on the floor for Saturday's match-up with Gonzaga, but he's going to be an interested spectator as well.
The Hoosiers' fleet-footed 6-3, 162-pound point guard can't wait to see what happens in the paint when the Hoosiers' 6-8, 265-pound Marco Killingsworth tangles with Gonzaga's 6-9, 269-pound J.P. Batista.
"That's going to be a big match-up," Calloway said. "Two big boys, about 600 pounds in the paint. That's going to be pretty fun to see."
The two teams' big men will be more than quality entertainment – they could very determine the outcome of the 8:10 p.m. EST match-up between sixth-seeded Indiana (19-11) and third-seeded Gonzaga (28-3). Killingsworth leads the Hoosiers in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (7.9), and his presence inside frees up the team from the 3-point arc.
While Gonzaga's National Player of the Year candidate Adam Morrison is the Bulldogs' No. 1 option, Batista isn't too far behind, averaging 19.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. Like Morrison, Batista was a first-team All-West Coast Conference pick.
Calloway might be looking forward to seeing the two big bodies wrestle, but IU Coach Mike Davis would prefer to see Batista on the sidelines instead.
"We hope Batista will pick up five fouls in the first half," Davis said. "He's a really good basketball player."
Davis knows that those around the West Coast Conference know that, but Batista is someone who gets glanced over due to Morrison's presence on the floor and the roster.
"J.P. has been vastly underestimated and underrated (this year)," Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said. "By the large part in the games we've come back…you get a big body like that, in the second half it starts wearing people down. He as much as Adam has made big shot after big shot down the stretch of games."
This will be a very different match-up than the one Killingsworth faced in the Hoosiers' 87-83 first-round win over San Diego State. In that match-up Killingsworth was usually matched up with 6-9, 220-pound Marcus Slaughter or 6-10, 216-pound Mohamed Abukar, a pair athletic big men who could score in the paint or outside of it.
Both Killingsworth and Batista, though, will set up shop as deep as they can and try to do their damage from point blank range.
"It will be critical because whichever one of us has the best performance has the best chance of winning," Killingsworth said. "Morrison is going to do his thing – everyone knows that. But if I can lock (Batista) down, we'll be in pretty good shape."
That's easier said than done. Batista has scored in double figures in 20 of Gonzaga's last 21 games, and he's put up double-figure rebounding totals in 13 of those games. He's scored 20 or more 13 times and is more than capable of being a go-to player down the stretch.
"It's a big match-up," said IU assistant coach Donnie Marsh, who oversees the Hoosiers' defensive efforts. "It's a big matchup because he's a kid that averages 19 a game that can put up 25 if you're not careful.
"It's important that Marco accept challenge and we make him play on both ends of the floor. I don't think you can just let him be comfortable on the offensive end and then not make him do something on the other end of the floor."
Killingsworth's intentions are certainly to try to make Batista work on that end. Killingsworth has scored in double figures in 28 of IU's 30 games, including the last 12 straight. He remains the most important player on the offensive end, and a big night is a must Saturday if the Hoosiers are to upset the Bulldogs and advance to the Sweet 16.
"Those guys last night were tall, skinny and athletic, they didn't have any weight on them," Killingsworth said. "Compared to Batista, he's big, but a little slower and I can kind of show my game."
Batista is also looking forward to the match-up with the second-team All-Big Ten player Killingsworth.
"I know he's a load," Batista said. "He's strong, it's going to be a battle. I've played against strong guys too, and I think our games are very similar. He put up big numbers. He's going to have to put up with me, too."
In an effort to keep Killingsworth fresh and out of foul trouble, both Ben Allen and Sean Kline could get reserve minutes as well. If they do, Marsh says it's important that the battle Batista to keep him from taking over inside.
"It will be big if Ben (Allen) or (Sean) Kline come in to guard him that they understand how we want to defend him," Marsh said. "You have to run the floor ahead of him, because he does a good job of running the floor and posting you deep."
Ultimately, though, it will be a battle between Killingsworth and Batista, and it's one that could go a long way toward determining the game's outcome.
"It will be kind of like a (Terence) Dials match-up," Marsh said. "They'll bang each other and they'll make each other work for everything they get."
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