Indiana Daily Student

Defense earns No. 10 Indiana men’s basketball hard-fought win over No. 18 North Carolina

<p>Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis celebrates a basket Nov. 30, 2022 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers beat North Carolina 77-65.</p>

Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis celebrates a basket Nov. 30, 2022 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers beat North Carolina 77-65.

No. 10 Indiana men’s basketball earned its seventh total and first ranked win of the season Wednesday night against No. 18 North Carolina. The Hoosiers handed the Tar Heels — the No. 1 team in the country last week — their third-consecutive loss after the 77-65 performance at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The difference in the game between the two teams was obvious for the whole 40 minutes: defensive execution. Indiana head coach Mike Woodson has preached the importance of guarding the ball well from the outset of his tenure, and one of the Hoosiers’ most productive performances on that end of the floor came at the perfect time.

“From a defensive standpoint, we were truly, truly solid from the beginning till the end,” Woodson said.

Indiana got off to a 7-5 lead by the first media timeout, forcing North Carolina to miss seven shots in just over four minutes. The Hoosiers were able to halt the Tar Heels from going on any momentum-shifting runs early on, a feat that Woodson attributed to his assistants.

“I got to give a lot of credit to my coaching staff who helped with the scout,” Woodson said. “Kenya (Hunter) and his supporting cast were phenomenal in terms of putting the game plan together.”

By the end of the first half, senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis had racked up seven rebounds and two blocks, powering the Hoosiers to a 35-29 lead at the break. Jackson-Davis managed to score 10 points to go along with his strong defensive statistics, all the while drawing the matchup of fellow All-American senior forward Armando Bacot on both ends of the floor.

Bacot had merely four points on 1-6 shooting after 14 minutes of first-half action.

“I thought our defense was very constrictive, like an anaconda,” Jackson-Davis said. “We just really sucked the life out of UNC early and they couldn't get any big shots, honestly.”

Bacot finished the game with 12 points and was one of North Carolina’s top-three leading scorers to be held under their season average. Junior guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Indiana freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and junior guard Trey Galloway drew the assignment of the mercurial Love, whose infamous ability to get hot from beyond the arc can put away games in the blink of an eye. Woodson praised his guard defenders for their ability to stay composed against such a crafty player.

“That kid’s got unbelievable range with his jump shot,” Woodson said. “We just tried to stay as close to him as possible. I thought Galloway did a great job on him early. I thought Jalen did a great job, because we matched him up from the beginning.”

Love and Davis, who have both begun their 2022-23 campaigns on a shooting frenzy, finished a combined 9-27 from the floor. The Tar Heels’ backcourt is shooting less than 40% from the field over eight games, making 98 out of 246 total shots.

“When you're dealing with players that can make shots from the perimeter, you just can't give them much room,” Woodson said. “I thought tonight, we were really good in that area.”

Later in the game, the Hoosiers found themselves in foul trouble — the result of a handful of controversial refereeing decisions. Jackson-Davis, graduate forward Race Thompson and freshman forward Malik Reneau ended the game with 3 fouls apiece, and junior forward Jordan Geronimo committed four.

Against Bacot and graduate forward Pete Nance, who led North Carolina with 15 points, Indiana’s depth at the 4 and 5 was greatly tested. Still, the Hoosiers managed to escape without surrendering their lead or having any players foul out.

“A lot of things didn't go our way from a foul standpoint, but that's what it is, man,” Woodson said. “We played through the fouls that were called and were able to bring the game home.”

Jackson-Davis highlighted the Hoosiers’ strong finish through adversity with 21 points and 10 rebounds. In the battle of the bigs, All-Americans and potential Players of the Year, he outplayed his counterpart Bacot.

“He's a big-time player and that's what big-time players do,” Hood-Schifino said of his teammate.

At the end of the day, Woodson’s never-failing defensive focus paid dividends for the Hoosiers in their statement win.

“Tonight, our defense was what held in for us,” Woodson said. “It was able to help us secure the win.”

And if what he repeats time and time again really holds true — that defense wins championships — then the win against North Carolina is an encouraging sign of what’s to come.

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 

Like what you're reading?

Get more award-winning content delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Recap.

Signup today!
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 Indiana Daily Student