Indiana lost what was supposed to be its final home game of the 2021-22 season. And now it probably won’t be the final home game.
Like a broken record, IU led at halftime and came up empty down the stretch. Indiana led 32-22 before Rutgers hit a 3-pointer at the first half buzzer — an ominous sign for what was to come. The Hoosiers led 37-28 with 17:48 before the Scarlet Knights responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead. Indiana was back up 47-40 in a yo-yo affair, and up 52-45 with 9:08 left. But Rutgers would close the game on a 21-11 run to all but end Indiana’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers lost their fifth straight to Rutgers with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (18-11, 9-10) will next travel to Purdue for their final regular season contest. That game tips at 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette.
Indiana was up 14-6 just over five minutes into the game. The offense seemed to be humming along. But that was the best things would look all evening.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had a big first half with 15 points and seven rebounds, but Rutgers had seen enough.
“He was beating the double-teams early, and then they just basically sagged and forced us to make shots,” coach Mike Woodson said.
And make shots Indiana did not. The Hoosiers were just 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range, and just 41.1 percent overall from the field.
“We had a lot of good looks tonight,” Woodson said. “Miller (Kopp) had some good looks. Parker (Stewart) had a bunch of good looks. We just didn’t knock them down.”
Kopp, Stewart and Rob Phinisee combined to make just 3-of-16 from long range.
Part of Rutgers’ solution to slowing down Jackson-Davis was a zone defense. Indiana has seen plenty of that this season, but the Scarlet Knights were into on keeping the ball out of the middle of the zone.
“We usually don’t struggle with the zone very much, but for some reason tonight we were just holding it at the top of the key too long, and I don’t think the ball moved quick enough,” Jackson-Davis said. “So that was a big emphasis. I think the ball and the movement wasn’t there.”
IU only nine turnovers on the night, but four of them came on their first seven possessions of the second half, and that allowed Rutgers to rally from a ten-point deficit. That sequence completely changed the game. And then the only field goal IU scored in the final 3:16 was Stewart’s three to tie it with 10 seconds remaining.
Indiana got right at one point per possession, and that has typically been enough for them to win. But there weren’t many possessions to be had as IU worked deep into the shot clock most of the game, and they earned just 14 free throw attempts on the night.
Indiana did a relatively good job keeping Rutgers’ star guard Geo Baker and Paul Mulcahy in check. The duo combined to go just 6-of-21 from the field with eight turnovers.
But the player Woodson was worried about coming in was versatile wing Ron Harper, Jr. He was a mismatch for Race Thompson. Indiana tried switching, but in the second half Harper got loose.
“I think our missed cues up top,” Woodson said when asked what IU needed to do better on Harper, who had 19 points and five 3-pointers. “We came in, I thought early on, when they ran the four-one or four-two pick-and-roll, Race did a good job in stabbing, and we were able to keep the matchup. That’s what I was basically trying to do. I thought the first half we played him pretty well.
“Second half he got away because we stopped stabbing, and now it’s a scramble to get back to him.”
Harper, Jr. had 14 of his points after halftime including four 3-pointers.
Defense was IU’s best offense for much of the night. The Hoosiers forced Rutgers to commit 13 turnovers and off those turnovers, Indiana scored 19 points.
Indiana allowed 1.05 points per possession — not an insurmountable number, but certainly a rate that makes things difficult when trying to keep up on the other end against a good defense.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, highlights, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson and Jackson-Davis post-game
- Second half collapse ruins senior night
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B-) His fade in the second half for the most part wasn’t his fault although you’d like to see more rebounding production. He had just two second half boards, and two second half turnovers. Rutgers simply crowded the lane and made life difficult, and Jackson-Davis’ game isn’t versatile enough to work around that.
Race Thompson (B-) It’s hard to imagine Thompson only have three rebounds in 31 minutes, but that’s how it worked out. He struggled guarding the perimeter, but that was for the most part to be expected. That’s a personnel issue, not a Thompson issue. But he wasn’t able to exploit the mismatch enough when Indiana had the ball.
Xavier Johnson (B-) Johnson was out of control at times and he took some bad shots. But he continues to make open threes, and although he had four turnovers, Johnson came up with three steals. His relentless effort frustrated Mulcahy and nearly flipped the game.
Miller Kopp (D-) Give Kopp credit for the hustle play that earned IU an extra possession that led to them tying the game, and he hit the free throws before that. But for the most part his team high 34 minutes didn’t deliver enough results on either end.
Parker Stewart (D-) It wasn’t easy to make the game-tying shot after missing five straight from behind-the-arc. Shooters have off nights, and he had one. And when the shots are not falling for Stewart, he typically isn’t a net positive on the floor.
Rob Phinisee (C+) Phinisee appears to be coming back around on the defensive end, and he had two assists against no turnovers in 17 minutes. But he was just 1-of-4 from the field.
Tamar Bates (Incomplete) He really didn’t play long enough to evaluate, but that’s the question — why didn’t Bates play more than five minutes when Indiana was struggling at times to matchup with long guards?
Jordan Geronimo (B) With Geronimo making shots, it was somewhat surprising to not see him play more considering IU’s need for more versatile defenders in this game.
Michael Durr (C) He struggled to recognize mismatches and doubles when he had the ball on the block, but Durr did have a couple rebounds and blocks, and he added an assist.
Logan Duncomb and Anthony Leal did not play. Trey Galloway and Khristian Lander were out with injuries.
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