Night Line: Indiana Displays Just Some Of Its Potential In 24-Point Blowout of UNCPosted by EJacoby on November 28th, 2012
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that evening’s games.
So this is why Indiana garnered the #1 preseason ranking for the 2012-13 season. Despite coming into Tuesday night’s game with a 6-0 record and 32-point average margin of victory, the AP poll’s top-ranked Hoosiers had yet to produce a statement performance to legitimize their candidacy as the best squad in all of college hoops. It took overtime to dispose of previously unranked Georgetown last week, and Tom Crean’s team faced another tough test with the Tar Heels coming to town for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Indiana did not fool around this time, easily disposing of North Carolina, 83-59, in a game that showcased a tantalizing display of offensive basketball by the Hoosiers from start to finish. All doubts about IU’s true “top-seed upside” are quelled for the time being after it ran a young-but-explosive UNC team off the floor in Bloomington by out-executing and out-smarting the Tar Heels; even in an imperfect shooting night.
For long stretches of Tuesday night’s game, the Hoosiers – ranked #2 in this week’s RTC Top 25 – played a completely flawless brand of unselfish basketball. Crisp passes flew around the Assembly Hall floor at seemingly light speed, leaving the Carolina defense with no chance to rotate quick enough to challenge IU’s knockdown outside shooters or strong post finishers. Strong outlet passes from forwards reached lead guards Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls before UNC could catch up, and the Hoosiers converted time and time again in transition. Indiana totaled 21 assists on 33 made field goals through its balanced attack. The game film of this 24-point blowout ought to become its own best-selling clinic video in ball movement, as IU converted at 1.12 points per possession against the #14-ranked team in the country. Tonight’s IU assist total (21) outpaced that of the leading team in that category nationally (Maryland, 19.3 per game), and the performance boosted IU up to the top offensive efficiency rating (125.5) in the nation.
What’s perhaps most incredible about Tuesday’s beatdown was that the Hoosiers could have been even better on offense despite this eye-popping display. Indiana missed several open three-pointers and shot just 44% from the field overall on the night. Impact starters Christian Watford and Ferrell combined for a total of four points, while important reserves Jeremy Hollowell, Remy Abell, and Maurice Creek combined for just eight. Huge nights from explosive guard Victor Oladipo (19 points), the sharpshooter Hulls (13 points, eight assists, and seven boards), super-sub Will Sheehey (19 points), and All-America candidate Cody Zeller (20 points, nine rebounds, four blocks) paced the way for the easy victory, but other role players could have fared much better given the many open looks on the night. What was a 24-point blowout could have easily been much worse and turned into the Hoosiers dropping 100 points on Roy Williams’ team.
Certainly the opposing Tar Heels look vastly inferior this season after losing four stars to the NBA, but North Carolina still possesses the kind of young talent that could give less-athletic (by comparison) teams like the Hoosiers a run for their money. That simply was not the case on Tuesday, as Indiana consistently found open looks for good shooters while the Tar Heels were forced into one-on-one drives with talented but less skilled players. When the Hoosiers move the ball like they did on Tuesday – even in an imperfect shooting performance – they can display the kind of elite offensive upside that gives them a chance to win any game and a rightful ownership of the #1 ranking in the land.