Indiana coach Tom Crean must have given his team a simple instruction when it faced North Carolina on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall: attack.
From the opening tap to the final buzzer, the Hoosiers went full-speed ahead at the powerful Tar Heels, who couldn’t keep Crean’s players from driving into the paint. Indiana’s 83-59 victory in front of a rocking, sold-out crowd of 17,472 was verification of its No. 1 ranking, and it was accomplished against a team many expect to be in the top 10 by season’s end.
North Carolina (5-2) simply couldn’t match Indiana’s aggressiveness and passion.
At the 4:14 mark of the first half, the game was tied at 31-31. Then, with sophomore Cody Zeller leading the charge, the Hoosiers (7-0) went on a 32-8 tear that carried into the second half and left North Carolina coach Roy Williams searching for answers.
On this night, he had none.
Indiana continued to heap misery on the visitors with the crowd making it impossible to hear with an airplane-engine noise level.
By the time Christian Watford drove past two Tar Heels in the paint for a tomahawk, one-handed slam, it was 80-49. Indiana was treating North Carolina as if it was Indiana Wesleyan or Bryant, earlier season opponents that had been destroyed at Assembly Hall.
With two of the nation’s top players on display, Zeller and North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo, it was Zeller who couldn’t be denied. McAdoo had just 10 points and wasn’t a factor after halftime.
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