Cody Zeller (40), who scored a game-high 20 points, said energy cued Indiana's 24-point rout of North Carolina on Tuesday night.
In a 25-second stretch of the early second half, Indiana provided for the 17,472 people inside Assembly Hall on Tuesday night a window into its methods of destruction.
Yogi Ferrell first beat several taller North Carolina players to a rebound, passing to Jordan Hulls for an open 3-pointer. Tar Heels guard Reggie Bullock made North Carolina’s only field goal in its first 20 second-half tries, except that the ball appeared to come off of an Indiana player’s hand. Then the Hoosiers moved the ball down the floor so quickly, Cody Zeller beat everyone to the rim, making an open layup and drawing a foul.
Indiana could not be stopped at either end of the court.
No. 1 IU (7-0) did not so much defeat No. 14 North Carolina (5-2) on Tuesday night as it outclassed the Tar Heels, playing them off of the Assembly Hall floor in almost every conceivable way. The 83-59 final score almost flattered the visitors, who spent much of the second half getting flattened by the nation’s most efficient offense.
Zeller routinely beat defenders down the floor. Ferrell and Hulls offered a lesson in composure and efficiency. Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo attacked relentlessly at both ends. So thorough was Indiana’s dismantling of North Carolina that Roy Williams turned to a walk-on, ostensibly to make a point about any number of his team’s shortcomings, inserting Luke Davis at the 13:10 mark in the second half.
“The biggest thing was the energy,” Zeller said. “We just had to keep up the energy, keep pushing it in transition and keep getting after them on defense.”
It was in the game’s latter 20 minutes that UNC was undone.
Despite outshooting Indiana through most of the first half, North Carolina spent much of the game’s period chasing, thanks to IU’s excellence on the boards and ability to slow the Tar Heels down in the open court.
After scoring 10 points in the first 20 minutes, James Michael McAdoo (43) found himself held scoreless by Indiana in the second half.
The visitors were made to pay for their inability to seize control, as Indiana finished the last four minutes of the first half on a 15-6 run cued by excellent transition offense. In one sequence, Indiana built a lead of seven points off of a Sheehey layup, two free throws from an intentional foul on Oladipo, a Zeller dunk in transition and an Oladipo dunk off of a steal.
North Carolina was never in touch with the game again.
If the first half was an exercise in control, then the second was a show of domination. North Carolina began the half with that 1-of-20 stretch from the floor, the one make apparently coming when an IU player, trying for a rebound, tipped the ball into the net.
The Tar Heels didn’t score for the first five minutes of the second half, and by the time North Carolina coach Roy Williams inserted Davis, IU’s nine-point halftime lead had been stretched to 23, after IU started the second period on a 17-3 run.
“We had to come out on top, on our A game, in order to close out the game,” Oladipo said of IU’s second-half start, “so we wanted to come out in the second half and get some stops on defense and move the ball round and round, and I think we did a pretty good of that.”
There was, at night’s end, no corner of the box score in which North Carolina could hide.
A woeful second half sank their field-goal percentage to 37.7, and they left eight points at the free-throw line.
Stud sophomore James Michael McAdoo was held to 10 points, all in the first half and nearly seven less than his season average, while IU put four players in double figures. Thanks to the dogged defense of Oladipo, 3-point specialist and second-leading scorer Reggie Bullock contributed just five points. A nearly 53-percent shooter from behind the arc this season, Bullock managed just three attempts from 3-point range Tuesday, none of which went in.
Indiana forced more turnovers, clocked more assists, won the rebounding battle and outshone North Carolina in points in the paint, off turnovers, on second chances, on the break and from bench players.
After such a comprehensive performance, the simplest question somehow seemed fitting — how does it feel to put together this kind of win, on the back of so many disappointing seasons?
“It’s cool,” Oladipo said. “You guys know just as well as I know that this program — well not last year — but over the past couple of years has really been struggling. We were trying to get it back to where it belongs, which is on top.
“For us to get a win like that is a humbling experience, not only for us, but for this program as well. We’re just going to continue to keep working hard.”
Indiana finished four players in double-figure scoring. Every player in that quartet shot better than 61 percent from the floor, led by Sheehey’s 8-of-12 performance from the bench.
Zeller paced Indiana offensively, grabbing transition baskets almost at will en route to a game-high 20 points. Point guards Ferrell, Hulls and Remy Abell combined for 15 assists and just two turnovers. Hulls also pulled in seven rebounds. Indiana’s bench chipped in 27 of its 83 points.
The No. 1 team in the country looked it for 40 minutes Tuesday night.
“I’m really proud of the way our entire team played,” Crean said after the game. “We got great lifts.
“We just kept coming.”