BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Quick thoughts from top-ranked Indiana's 83-59 victory over No. 14 North Carolina on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge:
Overview: Until the beatdown began in the second half, Indiana and North Carolina had mainly played a tight game Tuesday. The Hoosiers (7-0) couldn’t pull away. James Michael McAdoo & Co. attacked the rim, keeping the Tar Heels alive in a hostile environment during the first half.
But once Indiana turned up the pressure after halftime, the Tar Heels (5-2) didn’t have any answers. A 46-37 advantage became a 70-43 edge midway through the second half. It quickly became an embarrassing event for a North Carolina team that lost to another Indiana-based squad, Butler, in last week’s Maui Invitational.
With 3 minutes, 46 seconds to play in the game, Indiana had three players who had scored 19 points or more (Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey) and another, Jordan Hulls, who had registered 13.
Indiana was on a different level, a stark contrast from the disparities between the two programs in recent years. But this lopsided win was another piece of evidence that justified Indiana’s status as the No. 1 team in the country.
Turning point: With 3:45 to play in the first half, Oladipo drew a flagrant foul; Indiana led 33-31 at the time. By the end of the half, however, the score was 46-37 in favor of the Hoosiers. It was a burst that secured the momentum for Indiana entering the second half. The Tar Heels had climbed back into the game, but Indiana’s surge late in the first half turned the matchup for good.
Key player: You could pick a few, but Zeller was stellar. His size and tenacity were problems for the Tar Heels. They couldn’t match up with him in the half court. They couldn’t run with him. They couldn’t alter his shots at the rim. Zeller was a polished player his freshman season. But he’s clearly a more complete player as a sophomore.
Key stat: Indiana was 8-for-20 from the 3-point line against the Tar Heels.
Miscellaneous: McAdoo started strong, but give the Hoosiers credit for slowing him down in the second half. ... You could see the competitive fire between Marcus Paige and Yogi Ferrell, the top two point guards in the 2012 recruiting class. Ferrell’s crisp passing helped Indiana’s offense flow throughout the game. Paige played hard throughout, too. Bright future for both players. ... I don’t think having P.J. Hairston available would have changed the outcome. But the Tar Heels certainly missed his 3-point shooting (they were 1-for-8 from beyond the arc).
Next game: North Carolina will face Alabama-Birmingham at home Saturday. Indiana will attempt to preserve its perfect record when it plays Coppin State on Saturday in Bloomington.