“Cody Zeller isn’t the same player!”
“Indiana doesn’t have a go-to guy!”
“The Hoosiers aren’t dealing well with the hype!”
Those were the pessimistic proclamations being kicked around for the first two weeks of the college basketball season. After Indiana’s resounding 83-59 victory over reeling North Carolina, those voices have been silenced… at least for now.
Indiana put on a clinic last night, getting a balanced scoring effort on offense, and showing off their defensive tenacity. Offensively, the Hoosiers had 21 assists on their 33 baskets, had four players in double figures, and shot 40% from three-point range (8-for-20). On the opposite end, IU allowed the Heels to record just nine offensive rebounds (just half of their season average), and held them to three points over the first 8:30 of the second half to blow the game open.
After a so-so showing in Brooklyn, Zeller took over the game last night
Zeller, who has faced more pressure under heightened expectations this season, set the tone early with seven quick points and was the best player on the floor. Victor Oladipo looks like an All-Big Ten performer, Will Sheehey gave a spark off the bench, and Jordan Hulls (13 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 0 turnovers last night) might be the team’s MVP to this point.
If you’re digging for a critique, both Christian Watford and Yogi Ferrell struggled offensively. The two combined for four points on 1-for-15 shooting - although Ferrell made up for it with a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio – and Indiana still won by 24. If anything, the fact that Indiana can overcome that type of performance from two of their top players indicates just how deep and talented they are.
North Carolina lost four NBA Draft picks, and was previously blown out by Butler, so they may not be as good as their #14 ranking. However, it’s not who Indiana played last night, it’s how they played. Firing on all cylinders on Tuesday night, the Hoosiers would’ve been nearly impossible to beat, regardless of the opponent.
On paper, Indiana was the clear #1 heading into the season. Now, on the court, they’re starting to earn that ranking.