BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana Hoosiers are still undefeated.
The No. 10 Hoosiers (7-0), backed by a complete “white-out” at Assembly Hall, knocked off the 2022 NCAA tournament runners-up, No. 18 North Carolina (5-3), 77-65 on Wednesday night. Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Xavier Johnson contributed 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and eight made free throws in 10 attempts to seal the victory.
The Hoosiers boasted an undefeated record before the night’s contest while the Tar Heels came into the game fresh off of two consecutive road losses at the PK85 tournament in Oregon, including a four-overtime defeat vs. Alabama on Sunday. Members of the “Crimson Guard,” IU’s student section, lined up for hours outside Assembly Hall.
Assembly Hall was ready to erupt and nearly did multiple times before the tip-off, which the Hoosiers won. The teams traded blows early, but the intensity of the home crowd gave Indiana a clear advantage. However, after some “vulgar” chants the Hoosiers were charged with a “profanity warning.”
IU’s offense struggled to keep possession and tallied a couple of early turnovers. However, freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino caught fire early and scored 12 of the first 19. He showed no signs of shying away from the spotlight, finishing with a career-high 14 in the win.
Indiana’s tight perimeter defense, keyed by Hood-Schifino, Johnson, and Miller Kopp, intended to limit deep shots, generally neutralized the Tar Heels’ attack. The physicality also resulted in UNC’s superstar big man Armando Bacot picking up a shoulder injury. He exited the game briefly but finished with 28 minutes on the contest.
For a small stretch in the first half, UNC showed off why it was ranked number one at the start of the season. The Tar Heels were four-of-eight from deep in the half. Northwestern transfer Pete Nance, who played with Kopp in Evanston, led the Tar Heels with 11 at the break.
Foul trouble was the name of the game for IU: the Hoosiers committed eleven first-half fouls, resulting in nine free Tar Heel points – the Tar Heels were in the bonus with over 10 minutes left int he first half. Jackson-Davis, Jordan Geronimo, Race Thompson, and Malik Reneau all had two fouls in the first 20 minutes.
The Hoosiers’ offense kicked things into gear late in the half. Jackson-Davis showed up in the paint to put down a few thunderous slam dunks and tally 10 points. Trey Galloway lent a hand and helped put the Hoosiers up by ten (their largest lead of the half) with two back-to-back breakaway scores.
The Hoosiers held a six-point lead at the break.
Jackson-Davis opened the second half with three easy lay-ups and a free-throw, followed by a swat of a Bacot layup. The Hoosiers went on an 11-2 run to give them the largest lead of the night, 46-31. Shortly after this run, Jackson-Davis recorded his third foul of the night.
Neither team was able to get hot in the first 10 minutes of the second half, largely in part to momentum-stopping fouls, turnovers, and long possessions. Fair or not, chants echoed in Assembly Hall expressing dismay at the officiating.
Galloway continued to be a factor on both sides of the ball for the Hoosiers. Galloway put in two floaters in to maintain a double-digit Indiana lead. He also excelled defensively, showing off his hustle and converting steals and deflections into points at the other end.
The Hoosiers started to let their double-digit lead slip with increasing foul trouble and sloppy defense. At one point the Tar Heels were within seven, when Galloway produced a steal and score to push the advantage to 61-52.
Down the stretch, the Tar Heels never drew to within eight the rest of the way. IU converted baskets inside to the tune of 50 points in the paint on the night, including 28 in the 2nd half. UNC only scored 24 points inside, even with stars in Bacot and Nance.
The Hoosiers got some late calls, in addition to UNC fouling to extend the game. Thanks to Johnson’s elusive dribbling and crunch-time conversions at the line, IU came out on top in an early-season defining victory. Johnson crossed the 20-point mark for the second time this year in the win.
IU’s next regular season game is Saturday at Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers is playing at Miami tonight in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Rutgers has won five straight against Indiana under coach Steve Pikiell. KenPom projects Indiana to win 69-66.
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