May's Homecoming

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Red hot No. 9 North Carolina (4-1) takes its high-octane show on the road to face Indiana (2-0) tonight in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with pregame attention focused on Sean May's return to his hometown.

It's the homecoming game for May, whose father Scott led the Hoosiers to the NCAA title and was named National POY. When May spurned his father's alma mater and chose to attend UNC, he lost a lot of friends back home.

"I realize people are going to compare me to my dad no matter what," May said. "It's something I didn't want to be compared to. I wanted to be Sean May and have my own identity and that was part of the reason I came to Carolina."

May said he expects to get booed when he takes the floor. But he also remarked that as rabid as Indiana fans are about college basketball, their infatuation with their team only pales in comparison to those in Chapel Hill.

However, had Bobby Knight's multiple transgressions not essentially ran himself out of town, May said he would have become a Hoosier. Then when Mike Davis took over for the exiled coaching legend, May said Davis just assumed he would stick around.

Bad move.

"A lot of people don't know that I never really got recruited by Indiana," May said. "Coach Davis felt that because I was an Indiana kid and my dad played there that it was a done deal."

May, averaging 15.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, is coming off his best performance of the year against Southern Cal. In last season's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, he set then-career highs with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and blocked an Illinois shot with 90 seconds left to protect an 81-78 UNC victory.

"He's one of the brightest players I've ever coached," Roy Williams said of May. "If I've asked 100 questions in the year and a half we've had practices, I'll bet he's known the answer to 96 of them."

In this storied non-conference rivalry, Indiana leads the all-time series 7-4; which includes two of the Tar Heels' most disappointing losses – a 63-50 outcome in the 1981 NCAA championship game and a 72-68 score in the 1984 NCAA tournament.

In 2001-02, the season Carolina would ultimately finish with an 8-20 record, Davis brought his first team to the Smith Center and walked away with an 86-76 triumph. Davis spent a good portion of that game smiling, talking and gesturing to upset Tar Heel fans seated near the Hoosiers' bench.

But this year he is fully cognizant of the turnaround UNC's program has made since then – especially at the beginning of this season. Carolina has defeated its last four opponents by an average of 23.8 points per game.

Over that stretch, the Tar Heels have trailed for only 20 seconds of play – just one possession early against USC on Sunday night.

"They are the best team I have seen in a long time," Davis said. "They push the ball down the court as quick as I have seen before."

The success of Davis' game plan will likely hinge on his team's ability to slow the pace of the game, limit possessions and make Carolina play more set offense than they have had to of late. If he didn't already know not to try and keep up with the lightning-fast Tar Heels, Davis probably figured it out from UNC's 97-65 trampling of the Trojans.

"I think we have to play a game like the Detroit Pistons played against the Lakers in the championship," Davis said. "Unfortunately, we don't have Ben Wallace or Chauncey Billups."

Davis might get some help in the form of fatigue however, as the Tar Heels will be taking the court for their sixth game in 13 days – five of which took place a long, long way from Chapel Hill.

Tempering UNC's scoring attack will be only half of Indiana's problem. With a renewed defensive intensity, Carolina is forcing an average of 23.4 turnovers per game and allowing opponents to shoot 42.4 percent from the floor.

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