This week, Indiana entered the Top 10 for the first time since the 2016-17 season, and its first test was facing No. 18 North Carolina in a nationally televised game of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The 10th-ranked Hoosiers passed their test against the Tar Heels with flying colors and will try to remain unbeaten Saturday afternoon when they visit Rutgers for their Big Ten opener in Piscataway, N.J.
Indiana (7-0) is opening conference play after turning in an impressive defensive showing in Wednesday's 77-65 win over North Carolina, the preseason No. 1 team in the country.
The Hoosiers held UNC to 33.9 percent shooting from the field and have yet to allow an opponent to shoot higher than 43.8 percent. It was the sixth time Indiana allowed fewer than 70 points.
"I just thought that our defense was very constrictive, like an anaconda," Indiana star Trayce Jackson-Davis said. "It just really sucked the life out of UNC early. They couldn't get any big shots early and we kind of rode it out till the end of the game."
Indiana also forced North Carolina to miss nine of 15 layup attempts and 13 of 18 3-point tries, marking the fifth time its defense allowed under 30 percent from 3-point range.
"It was a total team effort," Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. "From a defensive standpoint, we were solid from the beginning to the end."
Jackson-Davis collected 21 points and 10 rebounds while also helping defensively against North Carolina star Armando Bacot, who was held to 12 points.
Jackson-Davis scored 20 points for the third time this season but also had a lot of help as Indiana placed four in double figures.
Xavier Johnson added 20 and is shooting 56.3 percent after finishing at 40.6 percent last season. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino contributed a season-high 14 points while Trey Galloway chipped in 11 after being injured for the past three games and not practicing in that span.
Rutgers (5-2) opens conference play after a vastly different experience in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights took a 68-61 loss at Miami when they allowed the final seven points, went scoreless for the final 2:45 and blew an 11-point lead.
"This is a learning opportunity," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. "Just excited how this team is kind of developing. I know it's not the outcome I wanted today but I also knew we were playing one of the most talented teams in the country."
Among the developments Rutgers can be excited about is Clifford Omoruyi, who is averaging 16.7 points and 9.9 rebounds after totaling 16 and nine Wednesday. Another bright spot was Caleb McConnell finishing with 16 in his second game back from a knee injury.
The Scarlet Knights were missing Paul Mulcahy for the fourth straight game due to a shoulder injury and without him, they committed seven of their 15 turnovers in the final 12 minutes when they were outscored 28-11 and missed 16 of their final 19 shots.
"We had chances and we're good enough to win," Pikiell said. "Hopefully we'll get him back soon, but when you lose the best assist guy in the Big Ten, it's not easy to replace him."
--Field Level Media
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