No. 5 seed Indiana University Basketball (27-8) saw its season end Friday night in the NCAA Tournament East Region semifinal with a loss to No. 1 seed North Carolina 101-86.
Indiana had reached its third Sweet 16 in five years under head coach Tom Crean.
North Carolina dominated from the start by hitting 11 of its first 16 shots (67 percent).
Marcus Paige hit his first five shots, with four of them three-pointers. His season per game point average is 12. He passed that in the first 5 minutes of play on Friday.
This was a dramatic reversal in past performances for a Tar Heels team that had been shooting challenged for the vast majority of their season.
Almost every 50-50 ball seemed to go to the Heels and almost every shot they attempted in the first half seemed to get a friendly bounce.
Indiana fell behind by as many as 16 points but only trailed 52-41 at the half.
Amazing it wasn’t a blow-out given UNC made seven of eight three pointers and made 16 of 29 first-half shots (62 percent). Yogi Ferrell played well in the first half (12 points) and got help from Max Bielfeldt before the break (9 points) but few other Hoosiers were able to get any significant traction.
Giving up 52 first-half points made it virtually impossible for IU to recover.
The second half was no better. Paige hit a three-pointer that made it 59-43 Carolina with 17 minutes left. The guy who did nothing for IU in the first half kept it in the game in the second, Troy Williams had just 1 first-half point, but he had 14 points in a 6-minute window early in the second. His old-fashioned 3-point play cut the IU hole to 67-57 with 14 minutes left. But with 9 minutes left Indiana was down 84-64 and was never able to threaten North Carolina again.
In his last IU career game, Ferrell finished with a game 25 points, but did not get enough help from his teammates.
Indiana loses at least five players off this year’s team, led by Ferrell as well as key fifth-year graduate transfers Max Bielfeldt and Nick Zeisloft.
Key likely returning players for head coach Tom Crean’s ninth season in Bloomington include James Blackmon Jr., a guard and a leading scorer who missed most of the season with a knee injury, as well as starting center Thomas Bryant, forward Troy Williams, guard Robert Johnson, who started most of the season before suffering a high ankle sprain, and forward Juwan Morgan, who played through a series of dislocated shoulders in his non-shooting arm and will likely have corrective surgery the off-season.