The Minute After: North Carolina

  • 12/01/2016 12:41 am in

Thoughts on a 76-67 win over the Tar Heels:

It was a big night in Bloomington.

The students lined up for hours on end, fighting to get inside the building. Isiah Thomas and his 1981 championship teammates were in town for a celebration. Chicago Cub Kyle Schwarber played the role of honorary captain, while Jim Cornelison belted out the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The revamped Simon Skodjt Assemlby Hall got its national television debut.

It all added to another incredibly raucous environment surrounding Branch McCracken Court, and the Hoosiers responded in a big way.

There was no slow start. No non-communicative, lackadaisical defense. No offense barely moving the ball and not getting into the paint. Indiana attacked North Carolina — playing basketball better than just about any team in the country heading into this one — on both ends and threw the first decisive blow to set the tone. The Hoosiers led this one wire to wire, going up by as much as 17 in the first half while UNC pulled within four to make it interesting late in the second half.

That early spark by the Hoosiers was highlighted by a return to getting 3-point looks out of drives into the paint. They also completely dominated a great offensive rebounding team in North Carolina on the boards, while challenging shots and not letting UNC get much of anything easy on offense.

The Tar Heels were a deer in the headlights with the Hoosiers driving an 18-wheeler right at ’em.

“It was a wonderful crowd, gosh,” Roy Williams said after the game. “I’d like to play in front of a crowd like that in the Smith Center every night other than the frickin’ Duke game.”

North Carolina eventually found their inside game a bit with Kennedy Meeks (10 points) and Justin Jackson (game-high 21 points) hit some 3-pointers as UNC made its run in the second half. And the Tar Heels wound up winning the crucial offensive rebounding battle (31 OR% to 25 OR%) after Indiana completely owned that category in the first half.

But the Hoosiers also held early national player of the year candidate Joel Berry, who came into this one averaging 17.1 points, to just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. And the Hoosiers also held one of the better offenses in the country to only .94 points per possession.

Josh Newkirk (10 points, three assists), when he played his role, was huge. De’Ron Davis played excellent post defense (two blocks). He also worked his offensive game in the paint to hit a big bucket as Thomas Bryant sat for rest and the Tar Heels threatened late in the contest. Davis has been playing his way into shape since his late arrival in Bloomington so far, but looked very much like a player that is going to be a factor for the Hoosiers going forward.

James Blackmon Jr. (14 points, 3-of-6 from distance, nine rebounds) returned to form and played his heart out. He was on the floor diving for loose balls and hit a key 3-pointer with 3:42 to go to help keep the Tar Heels at distance.

After the game, he said there was “no question” he’d be on the floor tonight.

OG Anunoby played with a resolve and assertiveness that’s been missing since he went ill and scored a team-high 16 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting performance. He added two blocks and one ridiculous alley-oop finish.

This win marks Indiana’s 21st straight at home and brings its record against top 5 team at home to 7-1 since 2011-2012. Impressive stuff.

The Fort Wayne loss still stings a bit, and this team is not without flaws still. But nights like tonight, with a rollicking Assembly Hall faithful behind them, remind you just how special this team can be.

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  • 555iuiu

    First.

  • Zach

    Amazing night. Don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep with all the adrenaline pumping.

    -First, really hope OG is okay. Assume they’ll keep the medical specifics quiet like usual, but hopefully just a minor sprain where he could be back strong by the Butler game in two and a half weeks. If it’s a high ankle sprain, those could take longer…
    -Was so impressed by Robert Johnson tonight especially in the first half. He came out blazing but still under control. Strong drives, crisp passes, hounding defense
    -Josh was a mixed bag on offense between hitting some nice mid range jumpers off screens and barreling out of control on drives and getting stuffed, but Josh was awesome on defense. Constantly being a pest on Berry and limiting him to like 8 points.
    -De’ron Davis is an absolute beast. He’s so composed and under control it’s hard to believe. Solid post defense on really good UNC big men and he’s got very polished footwork in the post on offense. Assuming he’s up to speed conditioning wise, I want him on the floor as much as possible especially if OG misses any time
    -Reassuring to know JBJ was just a little banged up after Fort Wayne. The rest will be good for him going forward. We absolutely need his scoring punch and ability to make tough shots late in the clock and late in the game.

    Need to develop the consistent fire we had tonight each and every game we step out on the floor, but I’m convinced this team has as high a ceiling as any team out there

    #IUBB

  • Ryan Pride

    No better way to help the committee chalk up IPFW as a fluke than to handily beat a possible #1 seed come March. Assembly Hall has become a death trap for top ranked visitors. What a fun game to watch. Well, maybe not for about 3 minutes until JBJ re appeared and hit a huuuuge shot with 3 to go. Hopefully OG is okay. Great team win. On to the next

  • With so much depth, I’d love to see us play an aggressive full court defense.

  • So, really concerned about OG. I understand CTC said in the presser it’s thought to be a high ankle sprain. Those can take 4-6 weeks for recovery, longer if surgery is involved. RJ’s injury last year was a high ankle sprain, and he wasn’t back to 100% until just before the season started. So, would really put a damper on things if he’s going to be out for awhile and then need time to get back to it–this really isn’t the same team without him on the floor.

  • ForeverIU

    The good thing is we’re playing a bunch of cupcakes for the next month (except Butler). A chance for the young ones to get some experience.

  • KYHoosier

    Good team win with a lot to build on. Thought OG played his best game of the year and UNC really had no answer for him. He is scary now that he is consistently hitting 3s, hope for a speedy recovery for him. Thomas Bryant still needs more post touches. I think Curtis Jones and DeVonte Green are good player but need to slow down a bit and make sure they are making the right play. Im sure its easy as freshman to get excited and go for a highlight real play in IUs uptempo offense. I know they will do nothing but improve over the course of the year.

  • Yeah, Butler looms large now. Really hoping we hear some good news this time around. This team deserves to go without freaking injuries.

  • HAVOC

    Well, OG has time to get better with these next gimme games. There’s no more IPFW type games THANK GOD. All home games with the rest as well.

  • HAVOC

    Usually CTC doesn’t even comments on injuries when serious… especially when they’re serious. Personally, knowing how CTC operates, I doubt it’s that serious. Like Forever said, we have cupcakes AT HOME for the next few games… I guess that he’ll be fine.

  • I just commented below that I listened to the presser and CTC wasn’t at all sure. Might have even said OG could have gone back into the game according to Tim Garl. So holding my breath that it’s nothing serious.

  • HAVOC

    Yea. OG wasn’t even grimacing all that much on the bench after the injury. Although, I’m holding my breath with you, brother!

  • MikeinNC

    I can’t remember a more impressive overall performance in recent memory. And the atmosphere was an amazing showcase for Indiana basketball. What a great night!

  • CincyHoosier

    I think O.G. will be fine. Seeing the highlight, it was a lateral ankle sprain, which is good. A high ankle sprain means the sprain involves more than just the ankle (the severity of it extends up to the lower part of the lower leg). If it was indeed a “high ankle”, then the Butler game would be iffy but it would likely be more like 2-4 weeks instead of 4-6. Teams/media in my opinion tend to overuse “high ankle” these days, though, just to put a worst case on the injury. As far as a comparison to Rob, his took longer because he had offseason surgery (I am guessing his was much more involved with a bad bone bruise or bone chips, etc.). That would be a very rare situation. All this is obviously speculation, as the team doesn’t ever release specifics. Just a physical therapist’s opinion (biased of course).

  • sd chuck

    What a great win! This team has a chance to be great. When subs come in doesn’t seem to be drop off! DD is really special. RJ doesn’t get enough credit. This was the first game I can remember CTC really getting in the ref’s ear, loved it, more please! AH great job! All of this being said there is still so much room for improvement. OG very exciting player, ankle injuries can kind of linger. Lot of basketball to be played!

  • TomJameson

    Unfortunately Mark, Tim said “couldn’t have…” And CTC said pretty positively that it was a high ankle sprain. We’ll just have to wait and see about the severity of it.
    It worries me because he came straight down, no ankle turning, no twisting, just dropped straight down from holding onto the rim.
    It worries me because he came straight down, no ankle turning, no twisting, just dropped straight down from holding onto the rim.

  • TomJameson

    CTC said in his presser that it was definitely a high sprain.

  • Hardwood83

    Well said. I’m most excited by the fact IU has been KU & UNC and hasn’t really played near it’s potential yet. If they consistently put forth the kind of effort like the first half last night they are a top 5 team and will be unbeatable at home.

  • Lance76

    Ditto for all of your comments, especially the observation of CTC getting in ref’s ear. DD has great footwork around basket, he compliments TB well. Still would like to see more high-low game with those two.

  • Yeah, I went back and listened again and you’re right, it’s a very quick “couldn’t have” that sounded to me like “could have.” Man, this stinks. Shades of Alan Henderson in ’93, that team was unbeatable before he got hurt and never could get its inside game the same without Henderson.

  • Well, I certainly hope you’re right. Given OG’s overall strength, he’s the last guy I expected to get hurt, especially in such a freaky way as just coming straight down like that with no other contact.

  • Well, I’ll just say: CTC was saying that while OG was being evaluated after the game. Nothing had been determined at that point. I’m going to remain optimistic until we have reason to think otherwise, because without OG, this team won’t accomplish nearly what it’s capable of.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    RJ is this teams leader, no doubt

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    I get why Calipari doesn’t want to visit Bloomington every other year. Tough, tough place to win at.

  • Conrad Schlegel

    Now only if we got to play pUKe… To bad caliCHEATER is to scared to play us

  • Ben Niman

    Actually he did roll it on the landing. Looked like from the replay from the side line angle, he landed on a slick spot on the floor which caused his foot to slip. When his shoe regained traction immediately after the slip is when his ankle rolled over

  • Chappy Dan

    *ANOTHER possible 1-seed.

  • Chappy Dan

    Maryland at home a couple of years ago.

  • Ryan Pride

    “Handily” applies to only one of two possible 1 seeds we beat.

  • TomJameson

    you’re right Ben. I went back and replayed that several times frame-by-frame. It looks like OG was leaning, just a tad, toward the other basket when he was coming down (like he was going to take of quickly), and then it rolled just like you said. It also looked like it was a low sprain, not a high one. Can’t be sure of that, but there was one clear frame showing the foot angle during the roll.
    I think he misses the next two and comes back wearing an ankle brace.
    Good catch!

  • TomJameson

    Agree with that one. I’m with you, a little optimistic about coming back after the next two games.

  • MikeinNC

    Yep, that was a good one….plus, as someone who watched the Terps beat us back in Atlanta in 2002, I will always enjoy a victory over them. But this was even more impressive because of the pomp and circumstance around the night (’81 team, Schwarber, the coming out party for the new Assembly Hall) AND the fact that it was revenge on Carolina from last year, AND especially the fact that our crowd was so bonkers that it prompted Roy to throw some shade at the Carolina home crowds….