The Hoosier Faithful started lining up at 7 a.m. on Tuesday to watch their team take on the No. 14-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
After escaping the Legends Classic with two close victories, the Hoosiers No. 1 ranking was put into question by many.
The Hoosiers were focused and ready to make a statement against Roy Williams and his squad, and that’s exactly what they did with their 83-59 victory.
With the rowdy Assembly Hall crowd on their side, the Hoosiers jumped out to a quick start and never looked back.
The Tar Heels were taken off guard by the Hoosiers run-and-gun style of play. Indiana made a point to run the ball quickly up the court after every missed Tar Heel shot, leading to multiple fast-break baskets by sophomore Cody Zeller.
It was obvious that the Hoosiers were in control right from the opening tip. In fact, they only trailed one time in the game, when Brice Johnson made a jumper to put the Tar Heels up 19-18.
The Hoosiers responded with a three-pointer from their gritty and fearless senior leader, Jordan Hulls. Hulls finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while shooting 3-for-5 from behind the arc.
Hulls has been a man on a mission this year, emerging as the Hoosiers' leader and game manager. He is averaging 13 points per game out of the gate, shooting 55 percent from three-point land and has been the go-to man this season for Indiana when they need a big play.
Cody Zeller led all scorers with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He also added four big blocks, which shifted the momentum throughout the game.
Juniors Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo both added in 19 points to solidify the blowout victory over the Tar Heels.
The Hoosiers held North Carolina to just 22 second-half points, shutting them out for the first five minutes of the second half while opening the half on a 13-0 run.
The Tar Heels tacked on a few late buckets to narrow the gap between the two, but anyone who was watching the game knows the 24-point margin doesn’t truly do the victory justice.
This victory meant more to the Hoosiers than just another number in the win column.
Yes, a victory over a highly touted and historical North Carolina group is a big deal in itself, but this was just the confidence boost that Tom Crean’s Hoosiers needed.
The Hoosiers proved to themselves that they can still dance with the nation's best—in fact, they can walk all over them.
This victory didn’t come from the effort of one or two individual players—it came from a group endeavor in which every key player contributed in his own way, and that is what differentiates a No. 1-ranked team from the rest.
Many viewed this matchup as a big test for the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, and they passed with flying color while proving that Assembly Hall is no easy place to play.