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IU basketball game day: Hoosiers looking to establish momentum against reeling Rutgers

This is not your father’s Rutgers — or at least we didn’t think so.

After a fast start the Scarlet Knights have fallen on hard times, arriving in Bloomington on a five-game losing streak.  But make no mistake, Indiana will have its hands full against a tough-minded team that is starting to get healthy.

Both teams are on a short turnaround after Thursday road games.  Rutgers’ season hit its lowest point to date after a 75-67 loss at Penn State, while IU is riding high after it pulled off an 81-69 upset at No. 4 Iowa.

After starting 6-0 in their series with Rutgers, Indiana is 1-3 over the last four meetings.  The three victories are Rutgers’ second most wins over any conference foe since joining the league in 2014-15.  But the Scarlet Knights have yet to claim a win at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.


GAME DAY ESSENTIALS

Rutgers (7-6, 3-6) at Indiana (9-6, 4-4)

  • Tip time:  Sunday, 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
  • Television:  BTN (Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo)
  • IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, Joe Smith)
  • Series:  Indiana leads 7-3 (Rutgers won last meeting 59-50 in 2020)
  • Point Spread:  Indiana is a 5-point favorite
  • KenPom has No. 22 Indiana by 5 points over No. 44 Rutgers

Rutgers is led by Steve Pikiell who is in his 5th year and is 72-71.

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MEET THE SCARLET KNIGHTS

After starting the season 7-1 and reaching No. 11 in the AP Top-25, Rutgers finds itself in the midst of a surprising five-game losing streak.

The first four losses of the Scarlet Knights’ slide came against some of the Big Ten’s best — Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.  But a Thursday loss at Penn State officially raised red flags.

The struggles have come on both ends.  Best known for their defense, Rutgers has allowed more than a point per possession in seven of its last eight games, and more than 1.06 in five in the last eight.  Overall Rutgers ranks No. 35 in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.  They are top-40 in both block and steal percentage.

On the offensive end Rutgers has been under a point per possession in three of its last four games after only failing to eclipse that mark once in its first nine contests.  Overall the Scarlet Knights are No. 63 in adjusted offensive efficiency.  They disproportionately try to beat teams from two-point range, with 59.5 percent (No. 13 nationally) of their points coming from 2-point field goals.  Rutgers doesn’t get to the free throw line often, and they have been shooting a miserable 57 percent on their rare trips to the stripe.

Rutgers is 24th nationally in assist-turnover ratio (1.44), as they are also taking care of the ball at an elite rate (10.5 turnovers per game, 17th best in the nation). RU has a non-steal turnover percentage of 5.6 that ranks as the best in the nation per KenPom, with an overall turnover percentage of 15.0 that ranks 11th in the country.

Seven different players have earned starts this season and all have had at least one game scoring in double-figures.  Seven of the 12 scholarship players on this season are upperclassmen.

Ron Harper, Jr. is second in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.67) and in three-point percentage (41.6), is fifth in the league in scoring (18.6) and eighth in field goal percentage (48.8).  The 6-foot-6 wing was named to Midseason Watch List for Wooden Award (nation’s top player) and Julius Erving Award (nation’s top small forward).  Harper, Jr. was Ranked as No. 20 player in the nation (ESPN.com midseason rankings).  His turnover rate of 3.8 is in the top-10 in the country.

Geo Baker enters the game 29th all-time at Rutgers in points scored, 8th in assists, 9th in 3-pointers and 13th in steals.  The 6-foot-4 Baker was named Preseason All-Big Ten.  He suffered an early-season high ankle sprain that has contributed to a disappointing start.

Fifth-year senior point guard Jacob Young leads the Big Ten in steals (2.15), is ninth in assists (4.2) and 12th in scoring (15.2).  The 6-foot-2 Young has scored double-digits in 11 games.  He had 24 points versus FDU, his most points in a Rutgers’ uniform, and he then equaled that against No. 13 Illinois.  Young’s 3.9 steal rate is No. 72 nationally.

Montez Mathis is a starter at guard who has scored double-digits in eight games this season.  The 6-foot-4 Mathis has seen a jump in his scoring average this season from 7.4 ppg to 12.2 ppg.  He posted career-highs with 25 points and five three-pointers vs. Purdue.

Paul Mulcahy has started seven times.  A 6-foot-6 pass-first guard, Mulcahy is a threat from long range.

Center Myles Johnson’s career field goal percentage is second all-time at Rutgers.  He is second in the Big Ten in blocks (2.0) and fifth in rebounds (8.6).  The 6-foot-11 Johnson is top-50 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage as well as block percentage.

Top-50 4-star freshman center Cliff Omoruyi started the first six games of the season before suffering a knee injury.  He returned last week and is working his way back towards a bigger role.  Omoruyi gives Rutgers a second 6-foot-11 presence with legitimate Big Ten talent.


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