BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— In its first true-road game this season, the No. 18 North Carolina Tar Heels (5-3) fell to the No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers (7-0), 77-65, on Wednesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Indiana earned the first possession and quickly went to work on offense. Jalen Hood-Schifino knocked down his first pull-up jumpshot — a bucket that would foreshadow a hot start for the first-year guard who canned his first three field goal attempts.
After opening up the contest shooting under 13 percent from the field, North Carolina found its groove on offense midway through the first half. Graduate transfer forward Pete Nance displayed his full arsenal — swishing a corner three, banking in a hook shot and connecting on a turnaround jumper steps outside the restricted area.
But as Nance got it going, Trayce Jackson-Davis came alive inside for the Hoosiers. The preseason All-American’s dunk off an offensive rebound helped Indiana regain the lead after briefly falling behind.
Armando Bacot picked up his second foul of the game shortly after the third media timeout, prompting head coach Hubert Davis to sit the senior forward. With UNC’s lead interior presence out of the game, Davis quickly took advantage and delivered a highlight-worthy putback slam.
As Indiana’s inside game opened up, its ball pressure soon intensified. Steals on back-to-back UNC possessions resulted in a pair of transition buckets for junior guard Trey Galloway, giving the Hoosiers a 32-24 lead.
Sophomore guard D’Marco Dunn’s 3-point basket with under a minute remaining in the half momentarily weathered the Hoosier storm, but Indiana still entered the half up by six points.
Out of the break, Indiana continued the same recipe it had success with in the first period. Jackson-Davis continued to bully his way down low and a layup by senior forward Miller Kopp opened up a 44-31 lead for the Hoosiers.
With 6:39 remaining in the game, a Caleb Love free throw trimmed Indiana’s advantage to seven points. But the Hoosiers continued to work inside and 50 points in the paint for Indiana propelled the home team to victory.
Who stood out?
UNC struggled to find an identity on offense to start the game as weak drives to the cup and sloppy dribble hand-offs resulted in the Tar Heels mustering up just 29 points in the first half. But one bright spot for North Carolina was Nance, who finished the inaugural period with 11 points.
Jackson-Davis continually flexed his muscle on both ends of the floor for Indiana. The senior forward showed off his All-American prowess, using an array of post moves and finishing off multiple dunk attempts to compile a game-high 21 points. Jackson-Davis also thrived on the defensive end, registering four blocks and snagging 10 rebounds.
When was it decided?
The two team’s offenses came out sluggish, as jitters resulted in both squads struggling to find their footing. North Carolina continued its stagnant play throughout most of the night, but Indiana eventually found its go-to man.
Jackson-Davis opened up Indiana’s offensive flow, as the senior forward delivered a multitude of low-post buckets for Indiana, who opened up a double-digit lead moments into the second half. Though North Carolina attempted to scrap its way to a comeback win, the Hoosiers’ inside presence proved to be too much for the Tar Heels.
Why does it matter?
With the loss, North Carolina fell in its first road test of the season.
After entering the season ranked as the preseason No. 1 team, UNC now sees itself in the midst of the three-game losing skid. With North Carolina’s road trip extending into Sunday, the Tar Heels will need to find a resiliency required to win on the road to end their current streak.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels open up ACC play when they hit the road to take on Virginia Tech. Sunday’s contest is set to tip at 3 p.m.
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