North Carolina probably wishes they never turned the lights back on.
With 19 minutes left in the second half of the Tar Heels visit to Bloomington, the lights cut out at Assembly Hall. They immediately came back on, but the Tar Heels never showed back up. After using a 15-6 surge to close the half and break a 31-all tie, the Hoosiers proceeded to open up the second half with a 22-3 run, taking a 68-40 lead and turning one of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge’s marquee matchups into a laugher.
Are you still convinced Duke is the best team in the country?
If you are, that’s fine, but Indiana sure did provide a convincing argument to the contrary, as Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey combined for 58 points on 24-39 shooting in the 83-59 win.
Indiana was firing on all cylinders on Tuesday night. Zeller routinely beat every Tar Heel defender down the floor in transition — off of makes and misses — getting at least four layups simply off of hustle in the first 25 minutes of the game. Oladipo did what Oladipo does, coming up with easy buckets off of offensive rebounds and cuts to the rim while locking up Reggie Bullock on the defensive end of the floor. Sheehey proved to the nation why he’s the clubhouse favorite for sixth-man of the year while Yogi Ferrell and Jordy Hulls took turns carving up North Carolina’s defense to the tune of a combined 14 assists to just a single turnover.
Think about this: Indiana was this impressive, and they got nothing out of Christian Watford. Well, that’s not completely true; he did score once, a thunderous dunk with five minutes left to put the Hoosiers up 31. He was 1-9 from the floor.
Indiana still have some weak links. For as well as the Hoosiers were moving the ball, and for as many wide open shots as they were getting all night long, it was frustrating to see Watford force a couple of jumpers. And while Oladipo and Ferrell are both terrific defenders, when Hulls and Watford are on the floor together, the Hoosiers will be playing with two guys that are below-average defenders.
But after a performance like this, that almost feels like I’m picking nits.
The Hoosiers have so many weapons, so many talented players that understand and excel in their roles. Case in point: Oladipo has the physical tools to be a first round pick, and while he needs to prove that he can be dangerous as a scorer, I doubt you’ll see him do much more than play the role of Indiana’s glue-guy this season. He wants to win, and he knows that the best chance for the Hoosiers to win big are if he spends every second that he’s on the floor as the hardest-worker.
That’s a luxury.
And so is Assembly Hall. Even when the lights stayed on, that place was as loud and intense as any sporting venue you’ll ever see.
No wonder John Calipari didn’t want to play there.
Can you really blame him?
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.