Thirteen-for-37. That’s what Indiana held North Carolina’s three leading scorers — Caleb Love, Armando Bacot and RJ Davis — to from the field on Wednesday night.
The Hoosiers held one of the country’s most lethal offenses to 65 points en route to a 77-65 win in the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge. No. 10 Indiana moves to 7-0 on the season, while the 18th-ranked Tar Heels dropped their third straight after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll.
Love had 13 points, Bacot scored 12 and Davis had 11. UNC’s 65 points tied a season-low in scoring, as it made 34% of its field goals and 28% of its 3-pointers.
“I thought our players fell right in line in terms of how we wanted to guard,” Indiana head coach Mike Woodson said. “Make no mistake about it, they got great players over on that side of the ball, man. But I thought tonight our defense is what held in for us.”
“I thought our defense was very constrictive, like an anaconda,” IU forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “We just really sucked the life out of UNC early and they couldn't get any big shots.”
Jackson-Davis had 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in front of a sold-out Assembly Hall crowd. He’s scored in double figures in all six games he’s played this year.
Not only did IU play phenomenal defense, but it was able to turn North Carolina turnovers into points. The Hoosiers scored 17 points off 10 UNC turnovers.
Indiana guard Trey Galloway had six of his 11 points in transition directly off steals. Galloway returned to IU’s lineup after missing all three of the team’s games last week with a knee injury.
“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. “It was nice to have him back.”
These points off turnovers contributed to the Hoosiers dominating in the paint. Fifty of Indiana’s points came in the paint. That was more than twice as many as North Carolina scored inside (24).
“Coach Woodson, since he got the job, he always said play inside-out,” Jackson-Davis said. “Guys like [Xavier Johnson] and [Jalen Hood-Schifino] getting them downhill in situations where they can make plays was huge for us. They made big plays all night.”
Indiana’s starting backcourt pair of Johnson and Hood-Schifino combined for 34 points, the most the two have combined for this year. Johnson dropped 20 points (13 in the second half) and Hood-Schifino scored 14 (12 in the first half).
“For me, I just came in confident, just shot my shot. I feel like I was a spark,” Hood-Schifino said. “When I was hitting my shots, everyone else followed along, brought their energy, just built it up from there.”
The schedule doesn’t get easier for IU moving forward. The Hoosiers will travel to Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday for their Big Ten opener against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights fell to Miami 68-61 on Wednesday night in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
“I haven't beat Rutgers since I've been here,” senior Jackson-Davis said. "The RAC [Jersey Mike’s Arena] has always been a very hostile environment. They've had our number there.”
Indiana hasn’t defeated Rutgers since March 10, 2019, when the Hoosiers won an 89-73 game in Bloomington. The Scarlet Knights have won the past five meetings since then, including last year’s 66-63 game that ended in a game-winning 3-pointer from Ron Harper Jr.
“The real test is what we're going to do on Saturday with that game because they're a good team and they're very well-coached,” Jackson-Davis added.
The Hoosiers still have a quality test ahead of them but they met the challenge and shut down a fellow blue blood on Wednesday night.