Despite opening the season with two wins, the Hoosiers had their first barometer-game when North Carolina visited Bloomington. The resulting 70-63 loss was a bit hard to swallow because Indiana had several chances to turn the game into a win.
But at least coach Mike Davis had to feel pretty good knowing his team can compete with the highly regarded Heels.
With North Carolina leading 50-44 midway through the second half, Indiana played lock-down defense and closed down the Tar Heels on nine consecutive possessions. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers were only able to put two D.J. White free throws on the board in that span. The rest of the possessions resulted in four turnovers and six missed shots.
North Carolina used an aggressive, trapping defense that harassed the Hoosiers into 21 turnovers. North Carolina's physical and aggressive nature got in the way of the Indiana game plan, and upcoming opponents may try to do the same thing to the Hoosiers.
Davis was very frustrated with Hoosiers' ball-handling -- and the way his team executed its offense in the second half.
"I was just hoping we could score," Davis said. "It seemed like we never would cut, move or screen, and I think we missed a layup and a few open jumpers. At the end we hit some shots, but I just hope we can get better as a basketball team game by game."
The Hoosiers don't have a lot of time to get better. They travel to Storrs, Conn., to take on the defending national champions Dec. 4.
The Hoosiers appear to be a very physical team this season as they did a good job of altering North Carolina shots in the paint. Indiana blocked eight Tar Heel shots in the 70-63 loss.
Through three games, the Hoosiers have made 22-of-69 shots from beyond the arc.
The Hoosiers forced 23 turnovers in the loss to North Carolina -- including seven by Raymond Felton.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's no time for our freshman to grow into the job. They have to step up and do it right away." -- Coach Mike Davis on freshmen A.J. Ratliff, Robert Vaden and D.J. White
KEYS: The Hoosiers learned they can compete with best as they fought North Carolina for 40 minutes and ended up losing 70-63. The problem was their inability to execute the offense down the stretch and that has to improve against UConn and Notre Dame. The Hoosiers are loaded with young talent, and that talent has to grow up quickly.
ROSTER REPORT: Small forward Robert Vaden hit three three-pointers in the final minute against the Tar Heels. He scored 16 points and had nine rebounds. He is averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Shooting guard Bracey Wright is averaging 14.0 ppg and stepping up as the team's leader. He needs to improve his shooting as he is connecting on 41.7 percent of his shots from the floor.