Indiana made a statement on Wednesday night in Bloomington against No. 18 North Carolina. Now with impressive high major wins both at home and on the road, it’s reasonable to say this IU squad is the real deal heading into Big Ten play.
The Hoosiers never let their foot off the gas. They led for more than 37 minutes of the game, never trailed by more than a point, and didn’t trail in the last 27 minutes of the contest. After taking a double-digit lead with 16 minutes left in the game, IU’s lead was never less than seven.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won with another edition of The Report Card.
No. 10 Indiana (7-0) will hit the road to face Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
Indiana played through Trayce Jackson-Davis most of the night, and it worked much of the time. The IU big man has improved considerably with his ability to read double teams and pass out of the post. And when UNC left him in one-on-ones, it was typically a mismatch due to Jackson-Davis’ quickness.
“The issue was Trayce Jackson-Davis. They have a player that they can run offense through that can generate points for them on every possession,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “Not only can he score, he’s a gifted passer. And so, if you shrink the floor or you double team, now you’re leaving open shooters and, from a defensive standpoint, you’re in close outs. And when you’re in close outs, guys can put it on the floor and attack the basket.”
Indiana scored 50 of its 77 points in the paint, and their guards played a major role in that as well.
Carolina likes to send the ball to the baseline on ball screens and into no man’s land, but Indiana often had three primary ball handlers on the floor who could split the coverage and get to their spots.
“We knew North Carolina was going to ice ball screens,” Jackson-Davis said. “Guys like X (Xavier Johnson) and Fino (Jalen Hood-Schifino) getting them downhill in situations where they can make plays was huge for us.”
Indiana’s 1.11 points per possession were a season low, but typically a winning number. It was more than what UNC allowed in their prior two losses.
IU’s 23.1 percent shooting from three and 66.7 effort from the line were obviously subpar and could cause problems down the road. But the Hoosiers helped offset that with just eight turnovers, and their dominant inside play.
A major story on Wednesday night was how ineffective North Carolina was from 2-point range. With Indiana’s defensive pressure extended well beyond the 3-point arc, one could have reasonably expected the Tar Heels might get past that first wave to create mismatches on the back end. But Indiana’s defense on the ball was stifling, and their help side and ball screen coverages were on point most of the night.
Carolina came into the game shooting 54.4 percent from two, but made just 15-of-41 (36.6 percent) on Wednesday.
The Hoosiers also covered the 3-point line well, limiting UNC to just 5-of-18 on the night. With Xavier Johnson, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trey Galloway, IU has three perimeter defenders who can go over ball screens and stay close to shooters — which the trio did for most of the night.
Overall the Tar Heels’ effective field goal percentage of 38.1 was their worst of the season by seven percentage points. In six of Indiana’s seven games, their opponent has been held to under 40 percent actual shooting.
At .933, UNC scored their lowest points per possession of the season and least since March 11 a year ago.
“From a defensive standpoint, we were truly, truly solid from the beginning till the end,” IU coach Mike Woodson said.
The Hoosiers didn’t force a ton of turnovers (10), but they capitalized with 17 points off of them.
The Tar Heels first eight points of the game came from second chance opportunities, but they only scored six more that way the rest of the game.
UNC did get to the line a lot, scoring 20 of their 65 points there. Conversely, the Hoosiers held a national top-20 program to just 45 points from the field, including a banked 3-pointer.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- In win over North Carolina, Indiana shows its style can work against anyone
- Watch: Woodson, Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis discuss win over North Carolina
- IU basketball: Indiana 77 North Carolina 65 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A) Yes, he had 21 points and 10 rebounds, but what stood out most was his passing out of the post, no turnovers, and four blocks on the other end. Jackson-Davis has now shown on multiple occasions going back to last March he can get the best of matchups with elite big men.
Race Thompson (B-) An overall quiet game for Thompson, who struggled against length on the offensive end and gave up some points to a taller Pete Nance on the other. But Thompson was part of Indiana’s elite defensive effort, as he helped to contest shots in the paint.
Xavier Johnson (A) When Johnson is able to score from the midrange he’s almost impossible to stop. He was excellent all night getting through UNC’s ball screen coverage, and then slowing down and reading the defense. He also rebounded at an elite level from his point guard spot and was steady on defense. His plus-18 was a team high on the night.
Miller Kopp (C+) This was a game and an opponent where Kopp wasn’t a good fit. Carolina targeted him early, trying to get him switched onto the ball in one-on-ones. And while he spaces the floor for the offense, Kopp doesn’t have the complete offensive game to be effective against this level of athleticism.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (B+) It was reasonable to wonder where Hood-Schifino’s head was coming into this game after struggling to make shots early in the season. He answered that with 12 of Indiana’s first 19 points, and he was strong on the defensive end throughout. There were some late lapses in judgment that led to turnovers, but this was a step in the right direction.
Malik Reneau (B-) Reneau continues to get in early foul trouble, and he seemed bothered by UNC’s length. Chalk it up to a learning experience for the talented freshman who has been great to open the season.
Trey Galloway (A) Indiana doesn’t win this game without Galloway’s play on both ends. He got to the paint, scored in transition, and was solid guarding UNC’s touted backcourt. “I thought Galloway tonight was phenomenal, man, the way he played based on the fact that he hadn’t practiced in the last 10, 11 days,” Woodson said.
Tamar Bates (B) UNC seemed to be mounting a rally when Bates hit a three midway through the second half. He wasn’t able to build on his breakout game last week, but he still gave Indiana good minutes off the bench, with a second three rattling in-and-out.
Jordan Geronimo (B) Geronimo had some good moments on the defensive end despite often guarding players several inches taller and fouling too much. Defenses are giving him space to shoot, and he’ll obviously need to start making threes to truly maximize his minutes.
Indiana had 11 scholarship players healthy and available on Wednesday. Anthony Leal (ankle) and Logan Duncomb (illness) were both out.
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