The game I was looking most forward to seeing was against North Carolina. From this fan’s perspective, the Tarheels were always a very satisfying victory, especially when Dean Smith was at the helm. I.U. was not involved in the first Final Four that I attended in New Orleans back in 1982. I remember how polite and proper the Tarheel fans seemed in their less than intimidating powder blue outfits, while the women wore white gloves, befitting a lady of the South. It did not seem to match the fierceness of the other three teams fighting for the NCAA crown. Yet, they did it over the Georgetown Hoyas, and I was blue with envy.
“The General” paid a visit to a practice leading up to this big home game. He was particularly successful in finding ways to beat North Carolina in critical games, even with less talented personnel. I’m sure his presence in the locker room was inspirational to these young players and Coach Woodson, despite Bob Knight’s failing health. This team is built around solid defense and undoubtedly this was part of the message.
I originated “The Magic of Sixty” theory watching Coach Knight’s teams through the years. I believe that Coach Woodson is a student of his protégé’s philosophy, even if this number is meaningless to him. I’ve tried to back it with as much history and research as possible to prove the point. The most critical part of any I.U. basketball game is the stretch between scoring fifty and sixty points. Whoever gets there first or prohibits their opponent from getting there first is usually the winner.
“The Magic” proved once again to be there in this Bloomington Battle, as I poured over the statistics. At the 8:02 mark, Trey Galloway made a jumper to make it 59-47, a step away from the threshold to victory. However, the quest stalled and it wasn’t until 5:59, over two minutes later, that Galloway’s twisting layup made it 71-52. Fortunately, the Tarheels only put 5-points on the board in that important stretch of surpassing 60.
The 77-65 final was the first time in 7-games that Hoosier scoring didn’t exceed 80, but it really only took 60 points to seal the win. All the hype leading up to this battle was over. Last year’s National Champion runner-up and this year’s pre-season favorite had just lost their third consecutive game. And the most encouraging part was that it wasn’t the result of a last-second shot, a random night of sizzling shooting, or even a standout performance from an unexpected hero. It was the total dissection of a perennial powerhouse. As a result, the Hoosiers will stay in the Top 10 for the first time since 2017. The only concern is the 7-25 three-point shooting in the first two real tests of the 2022-23 season.
Trayce Jackson Davis added what has become a consistent double-double performance, with Senior sidekick Xavier Johnson nearly matching his leadership, A freshman, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and junior, Galloway showed that I.U. has once again become a National power and will be for years to come. Next up is Rutgers and the start of the BIG 10 schedule.