It's been a season of firsts so far for this Indiana basketball team.
First, Indiana tied a record of five straight wins of 20-plus points. Then they won their first true road game in the Tom Crean era in the win at Evansville.
Now, they just won their first true road game outside of the state since Tom Crean arrived in Bloomington in the 86-75 win over N.C. State in the RBC Center in Raleigh.
This team is special. I've said it after almost every game, but now hopefully people are seeing it.
After the first five wins people were saying the Hoosiers didn't play anybody. I disagreed, but they had their shot to prove it Sunday against Butler and tonight at N.C. State.
They beat Butler by 16 points and N.C. State by 11.
What else do you need them to do?
The Hoosiers started off the game on a 12-3 run in the first 2:40. Junior Jordan Hulls and sophomore Victor Oladipo did all the scoring with Hulls scoring eight points and Oladipo four.
Indiana also hit seven of their first 10 foul shots.
They hit a snag once coach Crean took Zeller, Oladipo and Watford out. The Wolfpack went on a 7-1 run, and the Hoosiers missed six of seven shots, which helped stage an N.C. State comeback.
Once Hulls came out, N.C. State switched to a 2-3 zone, and it gave Indiana fits.
N.C. State struggled on the offensive end themselves in shooting, but the offensive rebounding on the backside killed IU and kept the Wolfpack in the game.
Sophomore C.J. Leslie tipped in two of his 10 points at the buzzer before the half to give N.C. State their first lead of the game at 42-41 going into the break.
The Wolfpack killed the Hoosiers in rebounding the first half with 13 offensive rebounds to Indiana's 13 total rebounds. Hulls and Oladipo also combined to only score 15 points in the half after scoring the team's first 12.
The second half started kind of like the first. Indiana started off on a 5-0 run, but this time N.C. State came to battle.
The half was intense and saw N.C. State get most of the calls when going to the rim, while Indiana was getting no love from the road officials. IU got frustrated and N.C. State capitalized. At one point with under 10 minutes to play, the Wolfpack was up by seven points and looking to extend the lead to win this game.
Fellow Indiana native Scott Wood hit three of his 16 points and began jawing. This actually helped Indiana, as they used this motivation and stuck it to the Wolfpack.
Indiana went on a 20-7 run to end the game after this point.
The Hoosiers got two baskets from Zeller and a huge clutch three from Christian Watford that gave Indiana a three-point lead with under four minutes left.
They never looked back from there.
After a steal, Oladipo was geared for a for sure dunk on a fast break, but Scott Wood attempted to wrap him up and stop him before he got to the lane. Wood was called for a flagrant foul (intentional foul), which gave Oladipo two shots and the Hoosiers the ball back.
Wood was angry, but he didn't fool me or anyone with a right mind; he wasn't going for the ball. We all know he was trying to stop Oladipo from dunking the ball so he wrapped him up. We're not stupid Mr. Wood; when you try to wrap someone up that's intentional, hence the intentional foul.
Oladipo hit one of two foul shots, and on the inbound pass Hulls was fouled while shooting and hit both of his foul shots. That put Indiana up five with less than three minutes to go.
Hulls then hit a big three with 1:35 left to give Indiana a 79-75 lead and pretty much sealed the win.
After an N.C. State miss, Will Sheehey drove to the lane and was hammered by Wood, and Wood fouled out. Sheehey's free throws gave Indiana an 81-75 lead and helped seal the deal.
Oladipo slammed home the win with under 20 seconds left to give Indiana the 86-75 victory.
Hulls led all scorers with 20 points, while Zeller added 19 points and nine rebounds. Oladipo added 11 points of his own, while Watford had a great game, scoring 16 points and nine rebounds himself.
Sophomore Lorenzo Brown paced N.C. State with 19 points.
Indiana shot 50 percent for the game, and was 53 percent from behind the arc. They also shot 82 percent from the free-throw line.
The Hoosiers' defense held N.C. State to 42 percent shooting, including only 30 percent from three-point land. They also forced 19 Wolfpack turnovers in the game.
You won't lose many games this way.
Indiana hosts Stetson (3-3) on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in Assembly Hall, and will for sure be ranked next week going into the border war matchup against rival Kentucky.