It finally happened. After four years, Indiana finally beat Rutgers to end a six game losing streak in the series. The Hoosiers jumped out to a early lead but the Scarlet Knights continued to fight back as they always do. A one possession game late was followed by a a few missed opportunities. The final score was 66-60.
After Indiana led 30-16 with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half, Rutgers rattled of a 19-8 run to cut the lead to 38-35 at the half. Cam Spencer tied it right after the break with a three before the Hoosiers responded with an 11-2 run. They led 49-40 with just under 15 minutes remaining.
The Scarlet Knights then locked down defensively and made the rest of the game a meat grinder. They held Indiana to just 17 points over the last 14+ minutes. That included an almost nine minute stretch without a made field goal. Trayce Jackson-Davis ended the drought with an offensive rebound and putback. Soon after Joey Galloway did the same. A few missed shots from RU, including two front ends of a one and one from Paul Mulcahy resulted in the game slipping away.
“It was a great environment and a hard-fought game today,” head coach Steve Pikiell said after the loss. “They really got out and played quickly. There was too much Trayce Jackson-Davis out there, but our guys fought the whole time. We could have tied it up there with three minutes left with an open three. We needed to get that one down, but we fought and it’s a tough life on the road against a really good basketball team. I give Indiana a lot of credit. They were physical from the start and played really good basketball. There was a lot of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Miller Kopp and that’s probably a great combination for them moving forward. They did a great job and got us today”.
Rutgers shot 39.7% from the floor, 32.0% from three and 6 of 10 from the foul line. Indiana shot 45.8% from the floor, 5 of 12 from three and got to the line more often, making 17 of 24 attempts for 70.8%.
RU was -4 on the boards, -4 points off of turnovers, and -4 points in the paint in the loss.
The bench played well and outscored Indiana 18-11 even though Aundre Hyatt started in place of Mag. Oskar Palmquist making three straight three-pointers in the first half to get Rutgers back into the game. Derek Simpson scored 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting, 3 rebounds and an assist. He played down the stretch for a second straight game and defended well. He had the best +/- of any Scarlet Knight at +6.
Cam Spencer made some key shots for 14 points while adding 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Cliff Omoruyi struggled at times but still finished with 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting but only had 4 rebounds. Hyatt scored 9 points on 3 of 8 shooting in his first start since November.
A major factor in the loss was the poor play of the seniors. Caleb McConnell was just 1 of 12 shooting and finished with only 2 points. He did lead RU with 8 rebounds while adding 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. Paul Mulcahy looked out of it at times and only took four shots for 2 points. He added 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. I thought the veterans including Cliff looked impacted by the loss of Mag.
Overall, I thought it was an encouraging performance. Rutgers lost by two possessions on the road against an improved Indiana team right after the season ending injury to Mawot Mag. Their two seniors played poorly. They trailed by 14 points in the first half. And yet they kept battling and never made it easy for the Hoosiers. The Scarlet Knights were in it late in the game despite it all.
You can watch game highlights, the postgame pressers for both teams and more here.
Rutgers is now 8-5 in Big Ten play tied with Indiana, while they are now 16-8 overall.
Here is my rapid reaction video that takes a deeper dive into the issues in the loss but also why I’m encouraged about this team following the loss.
Rapid Reaction Video
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