basketball Edit

Indiana Conquers North Carolina, Begins Preparation for Big Ten Play

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North Carolina flew into Bloomington on Monday off the heels of back-to-back losses. They will fly to Chapel Hill with yet another loss after the Hoosiers' controlled Wednesday night's game, leading to a 77-65 win in Assembly Hall.

Jalen Hood-Schifino broke out for the first time, and Trey Galloway came back from injury providing the spark he usually does, causing Assembly Hall to explode multiple times. Trayce Jackson-Davis claimed a double-double, and Xavier Johnson continued to stay hot, leading Indiana to the big win.

However, the Hoosiers' postgame press conferences were rather uninspired. This wasn't a scene reminiscent of Purdue last year where Mike Woodson was nearly in tears, feeling like he just upset a good team.

He expected this result.

"It's not a statement, man," Woodson said. "It's our schedule. We had to play North Carolina."

The circumstances in which the Tar Heels arrived to Bloomington likely added to Indiana's confidence in a possible victory. UNC, in all honestly, didn't look like the best team in the nation, not even top 10. Leading to their hefty slide to No. 18 in the AP Poll being more and more understandable.

Hubert Davis, at least, has four days to prepare his guys for the start of ACC play as North Carolina will travel to Blacksburg and face off with the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sunday.

"We lost tonight because Indiana was better," Davis said. "Plain and simple, period, the end."

"Two things I'm excited about: one, going home, and then two, getting to practice Friday and Saturday. We haven't practiced in over a week and a half."

For Indiana, it's a slightly shorter break, but definitely not as much needed. The Hoosiers' will fly to Piscataway for their first conference game as well, taking on the Scarlet Knights in the always raucous Jersey Mikes Arena, formerly, and what will always be known as, "The RAC".

"It was a great matchup tonight," Woodson said. "We were able to come out on top. I don't think it's a statement, we have to now start preparing for Rutgers, and get ready for the Big Ten because the Big Ten is a grind, as you know. Rutgers is next up."

Rutgers suffered a tough loss at Miami (FL) Wednesday night, 68-61. Clifford Omoruyi and Caleb McConnell led the way for the Scarlet Knights with 16 points, both playing 35+ minutes. Their other loss was to Temple two weeks ago, 72-66. A game in which McConnell did not play.

"What we're capable of is playing our next game, which is at Rutgers," Jackson-Davis said. "I haven't beat Rutgers since I've been here. The RAC has always been a very hostile environment. They've had our number there."

What Jackson-Davis said next is what makes this Indiana team different. The challenges they are willing to take on, while also preparing for a whole other fight at the same time.

"That's the biggest test. That's what I said to our guys this week. I said UNC is going to be a great team and a great game. Obviously, with this crowd, I liked our chances. But the real test is what we're going to do on Saturday with that game because they're a good team and they're very well-coached."

Now, Trayce and his supporting cast can waltz into New Jersey with a road win over Xavier and a primetime win over North Carolina under their belt. One in which the Hoosiers didn't play their greatest, but were still able to pull it out. And another in which everything seemed to click, and it clicked at just the right time.

The prospects of Indiana starting 9-0 are absolutley there. Hosting Nebraska next Wednesday looks to give the Hoosiers an excellent shot to start conference play 2-0. Yeah, Saturday is a for sure let down spot off a big win, but what if this team is just that good?

I think they could be.

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