BLOOMINGTON – North Carolina didn’t turn out to be much of a challenge for No. 1 Indiana.
The much anticipated ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown turned into a blowout as the Hoosiers defeated the No. 14 Tar Heels 83-59 Tuesday in front of 17,472 fans at Assembly Hall.
I’m really proud of how our entire team played, IU coach Tom Crean said. We just kept coming. We knew we were playing against a great team, the kind of team you’ve got to be able to look at and see a team like that down the road.
It was a great victory all the way around. We want to keep improving, there’s no doubt, but it’s a fun night.
Sophomore forward Cody Zeller scored 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the way for the Hoosiers.
Junior guard Victor Oladipo and junior forward Will Sheehey each had 19 points. Senior guard Jordan Hulls had 13 points.
Senior guard Dexter Strickland led North Carolina with 14 points.
Indiana took control with a 13-0 run to start the second half.
Oladipo started the run with a basket. Zeller had three free throws. A three-pointer by Hulls made it 54-37. Oladipo then followed a Sheehey miss with a layup to extend the lead to 56-37.
Hulls then made another three-pointer. And just like that, the Hoosiers were on their way to improving to 7-0.
We played well in the first half, but in the second half, we realized the game wasn’t over with, Oladipo said.
We had to come with our A’ game to close out the game. We wanted to come out in the second half and get stops on defense and move the ball well and run. We did a good job of that in the second half.
It wasn’t all offense for IU. The Tar Heels started the second half 1 for 20.
It’s team defense, Oladipo said. We’ve been working on it all year long. We’re going to keep getting better at it.
Both teams like to run. And that was certainly on display.
The game was tied at 31 with 4:14 left in the half.
And then IU went on a 15-6 run. Oladipo scored five points during the spurt. Hulls made nice outlet passes to Zeller and Oladipo, who finished with dunks. IU went to halftime leading 46-37.
The 13-0 spurt to start the second half put the game out of reach.
The streak ended when North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock was credited with a tip-in with 14:58 remaining.
IU raced back down the floor, and Zeller finished with a layup while getting fouled.
It was a sign of the night as the Hoosiers ran the Tar Heels (5-2) out of the building.
The biggest thing was the energy, Zeller said. We kept up the energy, Keep pushing it in transition, keep getting after them on defense. We were hoping they would start missing shots. We had to keep doing what we were doing, keep the energy up. That was the biggest thing in the second half.
And I thought we did a nice job.