Indiana 83, North Carolina 59: Domination.

Andy Lyons

The Hoosiers took control of the game late in the first half and dispatched the Tar Heels comfortably.

Any nagging concerns (and I'll admit I had them) about whether Indiana is a plausible number one were relieved on Tuesday night in Bloomington. Indiana finished the second half on a 15-6 run after a 31-31 tie with 4 minutes remaining, The Hoosiers then began the second half with a 22-3 run, meaning that over a 13 minute stretch, IU outscored North Carolina 37-9. I expected Indiana to win, and imagined many scenarios that would allow it to happen, but I did not expect to see the game end with walk-ons on the court. In the end, it was as dominant a win by IU over a quality opponent that I can recall.

Box score.

I thought a blowout was possible, but I would have expected a blowout to result from excellent shooting on the part of the Hoosiers. Instead, IU's numbers were fairly pedestrian in that regard. The Hoosiers shot a respectable 40 percent (8-20) from three point range, but only 2-8 in the first half. IU was 46 percent from two point range. These numbers are fine, but not overwhelming, nor is IU's 1.11 points per possession. Instead, IU dominated this game in areas where the Hoosiers have struggled in recent years. IU held UNC to .795 points per possession, to 1-8 three point shooting, and 40 percent from two point range. Certainly, the Tar Heels had struggles of their own, but actually shot pretty well in the first half and still ended up down by 11. IU took very good care of the ball, turning the ball over only 10 times in a 74 possession game. The Hoosiers also had a comfortable advantage on the boards, rebounding 34 percent of its OR opportunities compared to 29 percent for UNC.

Individual performances of note:

  • Cody Zeller had 20 points on 8-13 from the field and also had 8 rebounds.
  • Victor Oladipo scored 19 on 8-13 shooting.
  • Will Sheehey was excellent for the first time this season, scoring 19 points in 26 minutes on 8-12 shooting.
  • IU won despite a poor game offensively from Christian Watford, who was 1-9 from the field.
  • Jordan Hulls scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting and 3-5 from deep. He had 8 assists and no turnovers.
  • Yogi Ferrell hasn't found his shot yet, but he had 6 assists and one turnover.
  • Jeremy Hollowell struggled early, but did hit shots on successive possessions in the second half.
Again, a comfortable win seemed possible, but IU did it without the usual offensive explosion. IU played a complete game, and looked like a complete team. And the Hoosiers are three men down. IU will have its low moments, and nearly had one against Georgetown. The target will be bigger after last night's performance in the showcase game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. But before the season, we discussed how IU needed to be able to win games in many different ways. We certainly saw evidence of such a capability on Tuesday night. This UNC team is young and inexperienced, not as loaded as UNC teams in the past, and had injury problems of its own. Still, we couldn't have asked for more last night.

Now, the schedule thins out a bit. IU hosts Coppin State and Central Connecticut on successive Saturdays before heading to Indianapolis to play Butler on December 15. That Butler game, against a team that also had its way with UNC, is really the only obstacle standing between IU and a second consecutive undefeated non-conference season. Pomeroy now favors IU in every game, even giving IU 54 and 55 percent odds, respectively, of winning against top ten foes Ohio State and Michigan on the road. This team isn't going to be undefeated, but last night suggests that the Hoosiers are in contention for all of their goals this season.
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