McCants scored 19 points and Felton added 18 to lead the
Tar Heels (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) past Indiana for their fifth straight win, 70-63.
"I'm extremely happy, to say the least," North Carolina coach
Roy Williams said. "This was our first real road game of the year,
and Indiana made enough 3-point shots to scare us."
The game was a far cry from the easy blowouts North Carolina was
accustomed to lately. The Tar Heels came to town with four straight
double-digit wins and three straight games in which they topped 90
North Carolina (5-1), playing for the sixth time in 13 days, got
into foul trouble in the second half and lost backup Marvin
Williams late in the first half when he needed four stitches over
The Hoosiers also took advantage of a weary opponent by playing
strong defense and with relentless effort.
That changed the game, from the expected blowout, into a classic
battle between two of college basketball's most storied programs.
"We played with more intensity," Indiana coach Mike Davis
said. "We have to get better from games like this, and tonight I
felt like we took a step in that direction."
But they were also spurred by a sellout crowd that urged Indiana
players to dive after loose balls and fight for rebounds. The
Hoosiers delivered with their scrappiest game in more than a year.
The fans also took on North Carolina's Sean May, who did not
respond well to the hecklers.
May, a former Indiana Mr. Basketball and the son of Indiana
All-American Scott May, was booed in warmups and one fan had a sign
taken away that read "Sean May = Traitor." Five fans wore shirts
that spelled out the phrase "May you must be adopted," and the
boos and chants intensified throughout the game as May struggled.
He made just 2-of-7 shots and finished with eight points, all in
the second half, and heard chants of "traitor" in the final
"They said exactly what I thought they were going to say," May
said. "I went to get a drink from a store today and heard some
boos coming out. I love Indiana basketball, people don't realize
how close it is to my heart."
Williams thought the crowd reaction was too much.
"They were saying things that shouldn't be said," Williams
May's teammates plotted a different response.
After watching a 32-26 halftime lead dwindle to 34-33 just 1:38
into the second half, North Carolina righted itself.
McCants hit two free throws to start a 12-2 run and when May
finally got his first basket of the night -- an emphatic dunk with
11:31 to go -- the Tar Heels appeared to have control with a 48-38
"The way we played defense tonight, not a lot of teams could
have beat us," Davis said. "But they made big shots and we missed
big shots. I thought McCants hit two big shots, and Felton hit big
Yet the Tar Heels, uncharacteristically, could not pull away.
Wright and Marshall Strickland each hit 3-pointers to get
Indiana within 50-44 with 8:41 left. Then May and McCants each drew
their fourth fouls before the seven-minute mark, forcing North
Carolina to rely on defense.
Despite enduring a scoring drought of 5:14 before May completed
a three-point play, the Tar Heels kept Indiana in check. May's
three-point play made it 53-46.
Poor shooting and carelessness with the ball created even more
problems for Indiana in the closing minutes, and when McCants hit
his fifth 3-pointer to make it 56-46 it essentially sealed the win.
Indiana made four 3s in the final minute but never got closer
For Williams, a win in a hostile environment was more than
enough to satisfy him.
"We can win ugly and we can win in the 50s and 60s," Williams
said. "But I like winning in the 90s a lot better."