BLOOMINGTON -- Victor Oladipo broke into song.
Can you blame him?
“Bad boys. Bad boys. Whatcha gonna do,” Indiana's junior guard sang softly into the microphone, a version of the theme song from the old TV show “Cops.”
This is what happens when you hit postseason form in November, when you crush all comers, when you've fallen into the college basketball valley and now bask at the peak, recognizing it could all slip away if you don't push like you're the hunter rather than the hunted.
“Bad boys. Bad boys. Whatcha gonna do?” Oladipo sang.
North Carolina could do nothing Tuesday night at Assembly Hall. It became fodder just like the No. 1 Hoosiers' previous six opponents. The No. 14 Tar Heels (5-2) morphed into Sam Houston State or North Dakota State or, most recently, Ball State. The previously explosive offense melted into second-half mockery.
“We're bad boys,” Oladipo shouted on the court as the expected cliffhanger turned into an 83-59 blowout. He did his part with a season-high 19 points, four rebounds and double digits in defensive deflections.
“There is one guy who brought it and that was Vic,” swingman Victor Sheehey said. “From the get-go he was going to the boards, getting deflections, making stops. When you see one guy bringing it, you've got to bring it. He sets the tempo.”
The talkative Oladipo radiates you-can't-beat-us confidence that shouldn't be confused with cockiness. Three straight 20-loss seasons still fuel the fire -- and perspective.
“Sometimes the juices are running and things come out of my mouth,” he said. “Whatever comes out of my mouth, people listen. I feel like the guys feed off me. I'm a positive person. I'm always up. It's rare you see me down.
“I'm proud of the program and the players. We haven't even scratched the surface. We can accomplish so much more.”
How much more can a 7-0 team do? It has won by at least 10 points in every game, disrupting with defense like it hasn't since former coach Bob Knight ruled the sport. North Carolina arrived with one of the nation's most potent offenses, got out-scored 17-2 to start the second half, was limited to 37.7 percent shooting and suffered the worst non-conference loss of the 10-year Roy Williams era.
“It feels like we have to be the hunter and not the hunted,” forward Cody Zeller said. “We can't be comfortable with where we're at. We have to take every game like we're the underdog.”
Perspective check: The Tar Heels weren't at full strength. Guard P.J. Hairston didn't make the trip because of a knee injury. He averaged10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Would it have mattered?
Not on Tuesday night.
Even before that, North Carolina had shown vulnerability with its 82-71 loss to Butler in last week's Maui Invitational. The Tar Heels fell behind by 29 points in that game on a neutral court.
Assembly Hall was not neutral, although it never reached last year's Kentucky intensity. Still, the Tar Heels were flustered into a jump-shooting attack that had no chance.
“We go 2-for-7 to end the first half,” Williams said, “and 1-for-18 to start the
second. You can't do that.”
Guard Jordan Hulls continued his recent surge with 13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and no turnovers. That followed a brisk workout that ended about an hour before tipoff when the senior worked on every shot in his arsenal, including burying 26-foot jumpers with the greatest of ease.
Zeller had 20 points, eight rebounds and a career-high-matching four blocks. Sheehey added 19 points and five rebounds.
“Cody Zeller is a load to handle, and two guys I didn't even hear of while they were in high school (Oladipo and Sheehey) kicked our rear ends,” Williams said.
“They are a team. They don't have one guy who beats you up. They beat you up so many different ways. I like how hard they play on defense. They are legitimately a No. 1 team.”
Zeller wasted no time in showing why he's the best running big man in college basketball. He sprinted his way to seven points in four minutes to boost IU to a 13-7 lead. The Tar Heels came back for a 19-18 lead.
A back-and-forth tone continued until the final four minutes, when the Hoosiers surged behind Sheehey, Zeller and Oladipo dunks. IU led 46-37 at halftime and then put the game away with its 17-2 second-half opening run.
“It's cool,” Oladipo said about the dominating performance. “We've worked really hard. This is a humbling experience.
“We're going to keep working hard, keep staying in the gym. We have to stay together, play for each other and the sky is the limit.”