No. 13 Indiana holds on, upsets No. 3 North Carolina 76-67
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — OG Anunoby spent most of Wednesday night helping Indiana restore its national image.
He wound up needing two staff members to assist him into the locker room with a bad ankle.
Anunoby scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds and James Blackmon Jr. added 14 points to help No. 13 Indiana shock No. 3 North Carolina 76-67 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Now the questions are all about Anunoby.
"He’s getting evaluated in there. He couldn’t have gone back in there, but it was high," coach Tom Crean said. "His spirit is good so we’ll see how that turns out."
Clearly, the Hoosiers (5-1) are a different team when Anunoby plays well.
When he missed most of last week’s game at little-known IPFW , Indiana was stunned. Since returning, the Hoosiers have won two games.
And he was terrific Wednesday, going 6 of 8 from the field with two blocks, two steals and an outstanding defensive performance before landing awkwardly after a dunk with 1:36 to go. Anunoby, Blackmon and Robert Johnson combined for 41 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists.
"The way he played tonight is the way we expect him (Anunoby) to play on a consistent basis," Johnson said. "The way he came out determined to get on the glass, that really got him going."
The difference was that the Hoosiers moved the ball, sped up the pace, got the Tar Heels (7-1) uncomfortable and into early foul trouble. North Carolina never recovered.
After trailing for a total of 16 seconds during its four-game trip to Hawaii, the Tar Heels never led and spent most of the game trailing by double digits. Justin Jackson scored 21 points and Kennedy Meeks finished with 10 points and eight rebounds on a night North Carolina had a season-low point total.
"One team really played right from the get-go and the other team did not, and that was us," coach Roy Williams said. "We weren’t ready for the intensity, the enthusiasm, anything that you want to talk about in the first half."
Indiana jumped to a 17-7 lead, extended the margin to 28-11 and never allowed the Tar Heels to get closer than 61-57 with 4:52 to play.
North Carolina: The curse of No. 3 continues. With Kansas losing on opening night, Indiana losing last week and now the Tar Heels falling, three of the four teams ranked No. 3 this season have lost in their first appearance in that spot.
Indiana: Crean promised to fix the flaws from last week’s loss. He did, and the Hoosiers delivered one of the most notable wins of his Indiana tenure. Now the Hoosiers must prove they can keep playing this way over the long haul.
The magnitude of two of college basketball’s blue blood programs brought out some familiar faces Wednesday. Indiana’s 1981 national championship team celebrated the 35th anniversary of the title they won by beating the Tar Heels on the night President Reagan was shot.
Among the returnees were former NBA head coaches Isaiah Thomas, who called on former coach Bob Knight to "come home," and Randy Wittman. The 1980-81 Big Ten player of the year Roy Tolbert also attended. Knight did not.
Indiana alum James Cornelison, who sings the national anthem before Chicago Blackhawks games, returned to his alma mater and sang the national anthem. And Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber also visited his alma mater and was named Indiana’s honorary captain for the game.
Williams might have preferred the milestone of his 1,000th career game as a college head coach happened under different circumstances.
Indiana won its fifth straight home game against a top three team and Indiana tied Duke for the most wins in the nation against the top three teams (six) since 2011-12.
Williams, meanwhile, became the 10th active college coach to reach the 1,000-game mark. He is 671-165 in regular-season games, 70-24 in NCAA Tournament games and 4-1 in the NIT. North Carolina shot just 39.3 percent from the field was 13 of 22 from the free throw line.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels host Radford on Sunday. After three straight games against Power-5 conference teams, the Tar Heels will try to rebound against a Big South foe.
Indiana: The Hoosiers host SIU-Edwardsville on Friday. With two top-five wins on the resume, the Hoosiers begin a stretch of three straight games against lower level opponents.