Rob Dauster

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PHOTO: Isiah Thomas holds Crying Jordan after Indiana win

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One of the funniest moments from last night’s Indiana-North Carolina game came at the end, when former Hoosier point guard Isiah Thomas enthusiastically holding up a bighead of the Crying Jordan meme that was so popular the last two years.

Take a look:

You guys know the back story here, right?

Obviously, there are the college ties – Michael Jordan went to UNC, but you should know that – but there’s also an old rivalry at play. Jordan and Thomas did not like each other during their playing days. Jordan’s Bulls, after a couple years of failing, finally supplanted Zeke’s Pistons as the powerhouse in the Eastern Conference in 1991.

There was the freeze-out in the all-star. The two teams famously did not shake hands after the Bulls knocked the Pistons out of the playoffs for the first time. And, in a book written by Jack McCallum on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, Jordan is quoted as saying that he doesn’t “want to play if Isiah is on the team.”

Think about that.

Jordan stole Thomas’ title as the NBA’s biggest star and then used that star-power to keep him off of the greatest basketball team ever assembled.

You’d hold a grudge, too.

And you’d probably be happy to celebrate a big win by holding up a picture of that man crying.

Roy Williams takes shot at UNC crowds, wishes they were more like Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 30:  Roy Williams the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels gives instructions to his team during the game against the  Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 30, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, was the place to be in the American sports world last night, as the No. 13 Hoosiers put together a dominating performance – they never trailed and UNC only got within four points once in the second half – to pick off the No. 3 Tar Heels.

The win came just eight days after Indiana went into Fort Wayne and lost to the Mastadons in overtime, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the crowd played a role in that result. Indiana students had been lined up, and likely lubricating, to get into the game since early that morning, and it showed. That building was deafening, and the energy spurred the Hoosiers to a 26-9 lead before UNC had realized what was going on.

UNC head coach Roy Williams said as much after the game, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

“It was a great college basketball atmosphere, and one team really played right from the get-go, the second one did not and that was us,” Williams said. “We were not ready for the intensity, the enthusiasm, anything that you want to talk about in the first half. But it was a wonderful crowd.”

(This is where his comment gets interesting.)

“Gosh. I’d like to play in front of a crowd like that in the Smith Center every night other than the frickin’ Duke game. And that was just – congratulations to them, their fans, their students. It was a big-time crowd.”

Yup, that Williams throwing shade at the wine and cheese crowd that attends North Carolina games, and he’s not wrong. The atmosphere at the Dean Dome, one of the historic buildings in the sport, isn’t what it is at some other college basketball venues because the good seats don’t go to the students, they go to the people with the money. They may love their Tar Heels, but they’re not yelling and screaming for 40 minutes the way a drunk 20-year old will be.

It’s something players notice.

North Carolina isn’t alone with this issue – Kentucky’s Rupp Arena has a similar reputation – and I’m not sure if it’s something that can change anytime soon. Those big-money donors aren’t going to want to give up their good seats. I know I wouldn’t.

But it is something that matters.

There’s a reason we always talk about how difficult it is to win on the road in college basketball. Indiana showed us why last night.

Arizona loses Parker Jackson-Cartwright for ‘considerable amount of time’

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 25:  Parker Jackson-Cartwright #0 of the Arizona Wildcats drives against the Butler Bulldogs during the championship game of the 2016 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on November 25, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Butler won 69-65.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Arizona took another hit on Wednesday night as starting point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright suffered an ankle injury in the team’s 85-63 win over Texas Southern.

The good news? X-rays on the injury came back negative.

The bad news?

“He has a high-ankle sprain,” head coach Sean Miller said, “and from what I understand he’s going to be out for a considerable amount of time.”

The Wildcats are already dealing with a season-ending injury to Ray Smith while star guard Allonzo Trier has yet to play this season due to concerns over his eligibility. Without Jackson-Cartwright, the Wildcats will have seven scholarship players available while Kadeem Allen and Kobi Simmons will be tasked with sharing point guard duties.

No. 13 Indiana impresses again in dominant win over No. 3 North Carolina

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 30:  O G Anunoby #3 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Assembly Hall on November 30, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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O.G. Anunoby led five players in double-figures with 16 points and James Blackmon Jr. added 14 points, nine boards and three assists coming off of a knee injury as No. 13 Indiana landed another impressive win as they picked off No. 3 North Carolina, 76-67.

This is the second elite win for the Hoosiers in the first three weeks of the season. On opening night, they beat No. 4 Kansas in overtime in the Armed Forces Classic out in Hawai’i. Both of those teams look destined to finish the season in or around the top five, meaning that regardless of what transpires throughout the rest of the season, the Hoosiers are going to end up with, potentially, the best pair of wins on their résumé of anyone in the country.

If they can string together enough wins to take home the Big Ten regular season title – something that looks quite doable with Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State looking very beatable early on this season – the Hoosiers have already put themselves into contention to be a No. 1 seed.

Even with that pesky loss to Fort Wayne.

Which begs the question that ESPN announcer Dick Vitale asked late in Wednesday night’s broadcast:

“Which is the real Indiana? The team that beat North Carolina and Kansas, or the team that lost to Fort Wayne?”

And, frankly, the answer is both.

Look, with the way this Indiana team plays, they are going to be inconsistent. They’re going to be streaky. They’re very much reliant on the three-ball and their transition game simply because they don’t have enough creators on the floor to get consistently get them good looks in the half-court. Their offense gets bogged down when defenses tighten up and they don’t have a guy that can make a play out of nothing. They don’t have a guy they can give the rock to and know that they’ll somehow get a good look at the rim or fouled in the process.

Anunoby is a terrific basketball player, but what makes him so good is his versatility. He can guard all five positions at the college level, he can make spot-up threes, he can rebound, he can attack a close-out. But he’s a complimentary piece, not your go-to guy. Thomas Bryant is similar, and while he’s a more well-rounded offensive weapon this season, he’s still a guy whose most valuable skill is his effort level. He makes things happen in transition and on the glass, not when he’s iso’d on the block or the perimeter.

Blackmon is the x-factor. He was the guy against Kansas and hit a critical, late three on Wednesday night, but he struggled against Fort Wayne. How much of that was due to his knee issue, which caused him to miss IU’s next game? Who knows, but if Blackmon is the missing piece, it’s still worrisome to rely that heavily on a guy who’s had three knee surgeries and had to sit out a game two weeks into the season.

That’s where Indiana struggles.

But when they get going?

Man.

Watch out.

They remind me of a pressing team in the way their runs just keep building and building. As the saying goes, shooting is contagious, and once that team sees one or two go down, once their confidence starts to grow and their energy level reaches its peak – particularly when they’re playing at home in front of 17,000 screaming Hoosier fans – they start hunting threes and getting loose in transition. It builds and it builds and, suddenly, the No. 3 team in the country is down 26-9 before they have a chance to really grow into the game.

That’s what Indiana can do.

But if you can run them off the three-point line, run good enough offense to work clock, avoid letting them get out in transition, do the kind of things that good team do?

Then you can slow the system down.

So to answer your question, Dickie, Indiana is all of the above.

They’re going to be thrilling at times.

Frustrating, too.

But as dangerous as anyone in the country when they get that thing rolling.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Come-from-behind wins lead ACC past Big Ten

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 27:  Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at Assembly Hall on November 27, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Virginia Tech 73, Michigan 70

Seth Allen scored five straight points in the final two minutes to cap a Hokies comeback from 14 points down as Virginia Tech landed a much-needed win on the road against Michigan. The Wolverines, who looked so impressive at the 2K Classic in New York two weeks ago, have now lost their last two games against quality opponents. This is a win that will look good for Tech on Selection Sunday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 13 Indiana 76, No. 3 North Carolina 67: The Hoosiers cruised to another elite win without really getting tested. “Who is the real Indiana?” Dickie V asked on the broadcast. I answered that question here.

No. 14 Louisville 71, No. 15 Purdue 64: The Cardinals suffocated Purdue in the first half and held on down the stretch as the Boilermakers made their run. Our take on the game can be found here.

No. 6 Virginia 63, Ohio State 61: The Wahoos played unquestionably their worst half of the season, digging themselves a 32-16 hole at home against Ohio State. But as you might expect, Virginia came storming back in the second half to win, 63-61. London Perrantes led the way with 19 points, coming up especially big in the clutch.

Virginia’s win gave the ACC a 9-5 win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Mountain West wins: Boise State picked up a win over a good SMU team at home while Colorado State went into Boulder and knocked off a Colorado team that a lot of people think have a shot to make the NCAA tournament. For a league that has been trending towards one-bid territory of late, this was a good day.

STARRED

Obi Enechionyia, Temple: Enechionyia had 26 points to lead the Owls to a win over city rival Saint Joseph’s, hitting six threes, including a huge three in the final minute.

Rodney Bullock, Providence: 36 points, six boards, three assists, three steals, 5-for-8 threes. I don’t care that it came against New Hampshire, that’s an impressive stat-line.

Marcus Evans, Rice: One of the nation’s best mid0major players, Evans had 31 points and eight assists in a win over Houston Baptist.

STRUGGLED

Washington: The Huskies committed 25 turnovers and blew a 22-5 lead in a game they lost 86-71 to TCU while shooting 10-for-12 from three. It sounds hard to do, but it happened.

Northern Iowa: The Panthers, who looked like they might contend for an at-large bid early, lost to George Mason at home on a night where they shot 25.9 percent and 8-for-32 from three.

TOP 25

  • No. 9 Baylor coasted to a 79-45 win over Sam Houston State in Waco.
  • Lauri Markkanen led five players in double-figures with 19 points, six boards and five assists as No. 16 Arizona beat Texas Southern, 85-63.
  • No. 12 St. Mary’s trailed Stanford by four at halftime, but outscored the Cardinal by 19 in the second half to claim a 66-55 win. Calvin Hermanson went 9 of 11 en route to 25 points for the Gaels. No starters scored in double-figures for Stanford.
  • Lonzo Ball set a UCLA freshman record with 13 assists, and the No. 11 Bruins beat UC Riverside, 98-56. T.J Leaf (18 points and 10 rebounds) and Thomas Welsh (12 points and 12 rebounds)  both had double-doubles. Isaac Hamilton scored 27 points, hitting seven 3s.

NOTABLES

  • Chimezie Metu had 19 points and 13 boards in a win over San Diego, but it could’ve been costly for USC as Bennie Boatwright hurt his knee in the first half.
  • How weird is this sentence to read: UConn improved to 3-4 on the season with a 51-49 win over Boston U. at home.
  • Middle Tennessee State, the team that upset No. 2 Michigan State in the NCAA tournament last season, blew out Ole Miss on the road, winning by 15 after taking a 29-point lead into halftime.
  • Ivan Rabb had 25 points and 13 boards as Cal got past Louisiana Tech in overtime, 66-59.

Washington loses second straight game to TCU

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 14: Head coach Lorenzo Romar of the Washington Huskies gestures during the first half of the college basketball game at McKale Center on January 14, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona Wildcats beat the Washington Huskies 99-67.  (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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Washington accomplished I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen happen before: They Huskies jumped out to a 22-5 lead on TCU, shot 10-for-12 from three on the night and somehow managed to lose by 15 points, 86-71.

Making matters even more confusing, this was the second time in a week that the Huskies faced off with Horned Frogs in the span of a week; they played in the title game of a four-team tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Think about that for a second.

The Huskies were outscored by 32 points in the final 29 minutes of a game where they shot 83.3 percent from three.

And they did so with the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz, on their roster and running the point.

Before I go any further, let me be clear, this is not a shot at TCU. The Horned Frogs are 6-0 this season. I’m not ready to say this team is destined for the NCAA tournament, but this is not the pushover we normally expect TCU to be. Jamie Dixon’s team is going to be a thorn in the side of Big 12 teams this year.

That doesn’t, however, mean that this will be a “good” loss, or that the loss last week will be a “good” loss. And this is the same team that dropped their opener to Yale at home, the same Yale team that lost to Bryant tonight.

Put simply, we’re three weeks into the season and the Huskies have already dug themselves an impressive hole when it comes to a potential bid to the NCAA tournament.

Which is a shame.

Because the nation deserves to see Fultz play.