Indiana suffered an embarrassing 74-63 loss at Rutgers on Wednesday night that will significantly reduce its path to the 2021 NCAA tournament.
Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Scarlet Knights:
• Indiana fast start disappears fast: With 9:42 remaining in the first half, Indiana had increased its lead to 23-8 and the Hoosiers were shooting at full blast. Al Durham scored four early 3s and the Indiana defense was chaining multiple saves.
But then the momentum of the game suddenly changed and Rutgers took control of the game. The Scarlet Knights closed the half with a 27-8 run and held a four-point lead at halftime. Indiana looked grumpy on both ends of the court and Rutgers was on an unstoppable pace. It also continued in the second half.
“From the beginning, we weren’t ready for halftime,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said.
In the second half, the Hoosiers shot just 30 percent from the field, while Rutgers converted 48 percent. Rutgers ‘lead increased to 20 points and the Hoosiers’ chances were over. Earlier in the season, Indiana was able to fight back in deficit, but that wasn’t the case on Wednesday.
“Whether it’s a lack of confidence on offense or things are starting to get tough for us, our response is not to run harder, talk more to focus more, talk about the things we can control,” Miller said.
• Turnovers and free throws hurt Indiana once again: As has been the case all season, taking care of the ball and making the free kick were big issues.
Going into the game, Miller said Indiana needed to limit its number of turnovers to 10. Instead, the Hoosiers gave up the stone 13 times, nine of which were in the first half. It led to 13 Rutgers points. Most of the draws were the result of careless passing. Rob Phinisee and Khristian Lander lost three losses each. Durham and Trey Galloway had two each.
“I thought his pressure really shook us tonight,” Miller said. “We had a hard time functioning cleanly on offense and a lot of that had to do, I thought, with his ability to lift the ball and really work.”
At the free throw line, Indiana was just 11 of 18. Trayce Jackson-Davis was 7 of 11 and Galloway was 2 of 4. The only other two Hoosiers to make it to the line were Jerome Hunter and Durham.
• Another defensive collapse: One game after allowing Michigan State to score 52 points in the second half, Indiana’s defense collapsed again. The Hoosiers were slow on defensive rotations, leaving Rutgers shooters wide open on the perimeter. Pick and rolls resulted in easy dunks. Indiana was outscored 36-24 in the paint.
Indiana couldn’t contain Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker, who scored 20 points. Harper Jr. entered the game after having made just two triples in his last eight games. On Wednesday, he hit four triples. Baker dropped six of his own from beyond the arc and dished out 10 assists.
“What’s disappointing right now is when things aren’t going well for us, what we’ve put on our hats and been able to do is really throw away, compete and figure out how to make it anyone’s game,” Miller. saying. “And in our last two second halves, particularly when things have not gone well, our defense and our rigidity, our ability to communicate, our response has not given us a chance.”
There was essentially no resistance in the paint, either. The Hoosiers didn’t register a single block while Rutgers racked up 10.
• Indiana offense fights off Trayce Jackson-Davis and Al Durham: Jackson-Davis and Durham combined for 41 of Indiana’s 63 points. Jackson-Davis hit 7 of 16 shots from the field while grabbing 11 rebounds. Durham finished the game 5 of 7 from deep and added four assists.
Jordan Geronimo was Indiana’s third leading scorer with nine points, but most of his production came in the closing minutes when the game got out of hand. Race Thompson had just two points and Rob Phinisee was out of points.
Overall, Indiana shot just 36 percent from the field. They had 15 assists overall compared to Rutgers’ 22. The only statistical bright spot for the Hoosiers was shooting 44 percent from deep.
“It’s a game of humility, it’s a second half of humility,” Miller said. “I think it’s the first time all season that our team is really fractured where we didn’t know how to compete, what to do and that goes back to me. I have to figure this out and get this team off the mat because we have a great finish. “
• Armaan Franklin does not play the second half due to injury: After playing 16 minutes in the first half, Armaan Franklin was offside for the entire second half. Miller said after the game that Franklin again aggravated his ankle or injured his foot or Achilles tendon.
In early January, Franklin fell after spraining his ankle and was forced out of several games. Since then, he has not played at full force.
Franklin has been one of the most improved players in the Big Ten this season and entered Wednesday averaging 12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. If Franklin can’t play the rest of the season, it will be a huge loss for an Indiana team that has its back against the wall.
“In general, right now, I think we’re looking for an emotional type,” Miller said. “A guy that we can look at who can help us. We’re a quiet group overall and I don’t think we have an alpha personality, but I definitely think right now that we need some guys to step up. “
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