During the game, IU’s raucous crowd often over-powered Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities Chuck Crabb, who was calling the game inside Assembly Hall. As Christian Watford’s last-second 3-pointer dropped as the buzzer sounded, giving IU the 73-72 upset victory, fans charged the court as a sea of red engulfed the floor.
Last summer, IU and UK representatives weren’t able to continue the rivalry game for the near future, but Crean said he thinks Tuesday night’s game against North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge will bring the same type of atmosphere to Assembly Hall.
Crean said he arrived at Assembly Hall Monday morning to the sight of sleeping bags and fuzzy slippers at the general admission entrance. Students were already camping out for Tuesday night’s game against North Carolina. He said he knew Tuesday’s crowd would be special.
“I think it will be unbelievable,” Crean said. “I think it will be incredible. I think it will be like the Kentucky atmosphere, but there won’t be the buildup because of the week in between.”
Sophomore forward Cody Zeller said he knows since the schedule was released Aug. 30, students and fans have been eying this game against UNC as the marquee game of the non-conference season.
This year, the Hoosiers enter this game as the top-ranked team in the country, rather than trying to knock off last season’s eventual national champions in Kentucky.
Zeller said Tuesday’s game involves different preparation than last year’s big non-conference game. He added that for Crean and the players, this game is just another one on the schedule.
“Obviously the expectations were a lot different,” Zeller said. “I think the fans and the students are all excited about this game kind of like they were for the Kentucky game. Everyone has had this game circled on their calendar, but for us, it’s just another game. It’s another game to improve.”
But for the two freshmen currently playing for the Hoosiers, sophomore guard Remy Abell said this game will help them adjust to playing at the college level.
Last season, when Abell was a freshman alongside Zeller, he said the game against Kentucky was a learning experience, but it helped him get used to the loud atmosphere that surrounds Assembly Hall during the Big Ten season and the Hoosiers’ trip to the NCAA tournament.
“Playing against Kentucky last year helped prepare you for another big game,” Abell said. “But for the freshmen, I’m just going to tell them to go out there and have fun, play hard, and keep your composure.
“It’s going to be an intense game, and there’s going to be a lot of emotions, but you have to trust in your teammates and play your game. I think everybody will be fine.”
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