UNC basketball overwhelmed by Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana in 3rd straight loss

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot, left, shoots over Iowa State forward Robert Jones during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland, Ore., Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

After starting the season as the top-ranked team in the AP poll, North Carolina basketball has a three-game losing streak for the first time since February 2020.

In their first true road game of the season, the 18th-ranked Tar Heels lost 77-65 to No. 10 Indiana at Assembly Hall as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“We lost tonight because Indiana was better — plain and simple, period, the end,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said.

UNC (5-3) trimmed its deficit to seven with just under seven minutes left, but Indiana (7-0) leaned on its pressure defense and effective offense on the interior to prevail.

The Hoosiers, who led by as many as 15 points in the second half, dominated on the interior with 50 points in the paint.

“I’m not discouraged, but I’m disappointed,” Davis said. “. … It hasn’t wavered me at all on the type of kids that I’m around every day. I love ’em. I wouldn’t pick another 18 guys than the ones we have in the locker room.

“I wouldn’t pick another 18 guys to go to battle with the rest of the year. We’re a good basketball team. We haven’t played our best the last three games, but we’re gonna get better, we’re gonna improve and we’re gonna bounce back – plain and simple, period, the end.”

Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis wins battle of bigs

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana’s preseason All-American, lived up to the hype with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

“They have a player that they can run offense through that can generate points for them on every possession,” Davis said. “As of right now, we don’t have that. … Not only can he score, he’s a gifted passer.”

After averaging 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds in the first six games of the season, Jackson-Davis stayed involved from start to finish to win the battle of the bigs against UNC’s Armando Bacot, a fellow preseason All-American.

Bacot finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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Jackson-Davis scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and swatted two shots in the first half to set the tone for the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers had seven layups and four dunks in the first half to finish with a 22-6 advantage in the paint. Overall, they finished with 15 layups.

UNC’s RJ Davis, Caleb Love struggle

Indiana guards Jalen Hood-Schifino and Xavier Johnson outplayed UNC’s RJ Davis and Caleb Love.

In a first half that ended with the Hoosiers ahead 35-29, Hood-Schifino and Johnson combined for 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Davis and Love combined for six points and missed seven of their nine attempts.

UNC finished the first 20 minutes with 20 misses on 28 attempts. Love finished with 13 points and Davis added 11 points, but the duo made just nine of their 27 shots, with five turnovers and two assists.

Hood-Schfiino and Johnson combined for 34 points and made 12 of their 22 shots.

Virginia Tech, ACC play up next for Tar Heels

Things don’t get any easier for the preseason favorites in the ACC.

The Tar Heels will begin league play Sunday (3 p.m., ACC Network) at Cassell Coliseum against Virginia Tech, the reigning ACC Tournament champion.

The Hokies, who earned a 72-59 win against UNC in the title game of the 2022 ACC Tournament, are off to a 7-1 start. The Heels have won four of the last five games in the series.

After concluding its five-game road trip, UNC returns to the Dean E. Smith Center on Dec. 10 to face Georgia Tech (3:15 p.m., ESPN). In the preseason, the Yellow Jackets were picked to finish last in the ACC.

Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at rbaxley@fayobserver.com or @RoddBaxley on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: UNC basketball struggles in 3rd straight loss at Indiana

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