CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina's struggles have reached historic proportions.
The Tar Heels dropped their third straight game to open a season for the first time since 1928 as 24th-ranked Indiana came into the Smith Center and drilled nine first-half 3-pointers en route to a 79-66 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Despite a superb game by 6-11 senior forward Kris Lang, North Carolina (0-3) is off to its worst start in nearly three quarters of a century. The Tar Heels came out with tremendous emotion after home losses to Hampton and Davidson but held just one lead at 2-0.
"Starting 0-3, you guys (in the media) may think its weird for me to say it, but I am really proud of this team's effort tonight," North Carolina coach Matt Doherty said. "I think we could have easily won this game if we made some shots." The Hoosiers (4-1) took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Jared Jeffries and A.J. Moye followed by drilling consecutive long-range jumpers. A driving runner by Dane Fife gave Indiana an 11-2 lead just 3:35 into the contest.
Another 3-pointer by Moye late in the period and two free throws from Tom Coverdale put the Hoosiers ahead, 40-30, entering the locker room.
After Jason Capel opened the scoring in the second half with a basket in the lane for the Tar Heels, North Carolina native George Leach had a pair of scores around Jeffries' layup on the break, pushing Indiana's advantage to 46-32 with 16:15 remaining.
North Carolina got no closer than eight the rest of the way as Indiana won for the seventh time in 11 all-time games between two of college basketball's most storied programs. Included in those seven victories was Indiana's 1981 national championship game triumph over the Tar Heels.
"They (North Carolina) played the best basketball they've played all year," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "Kris Lang was unstoppable." Lang did everything he could to keep North Carolina within striking distance, collecting a career-high 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. He netted 18 points in the opening half and was 11-of-16 from the field.
However, the supporting cast struggled. Capel finished with 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting and committed seven rebounds.
"I just don't think (Capel) has as many looks as he's had in the past," Doherty said. "I've got to do some things to get him some better looks. I've got to incorporate some plays where he can come off a screen and get an open shot." Doherty started an all-freshman backcourt of Melvin Scott and Jackie Manuel and the pair combined to go 4-of-20 fronm the field with 12 points and seven turnovers.
The Tar Heels connected on just 37 percent (22-of-60) of their shots while Indiana finished at 45 percent (25-of-56) from the field, including 9-of-26 on 3-pointers, and was 20-of-24 at the foul line.
Moye led the Hoosiers with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and Coverdale added 17.
Indiana committed just 11 turnovers while forcing 18.
"Our goal was to go 4-2 ... six road games," Davis said. "Now we have a chance to go 5-1." Indiana visits Southern Illinois on Saturday before playing its first home game of the season against Notre Dame on December 4.