Even for those optimistic few that were still clinging to hope, there was a certain reality that hit home on Wednesday night as Indiana allowed a 10 point lead to turn into a 14 point deficit in a relatively brief sequence spanning the first and second halves.
The big run by Rutgers was nothing new for this Indiana team. But the fact that it was against the Scarlet Knights and the seventh such game in a row for the Hoosiers forces you to accept that whatever the reason, this season is a lost cause.
We suppose that an unrelenting optimist could still believe that a near simultaneous return of De’Ron Davis, Devonte Green and Race Thompson could provide a spark — and perhaps it could. That may be enough to help this team find a couple wins.
But accepting the fact that the next game against Michigan State is a loss, it would likely take a 7-2 finish down the stretch to secure a NCAA Tournament berth. After what should be an eight game losing streak, that now simply seems impossible despite six of the final nine games being played at home.
Indiana (12-9, 3-7) travels to East Lansing to play the Spartans on Saturday night.
THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Another big run does in the Hoosiers. We wrote earlier in the week about big runs by the opposition dooming Indiana in all six games of their losing streak. Make it seven. After Indiana led 25-15, Rutgers went on a 31-7 run. That can’t happen against anyone — but especially Rutgers, who was widely viewed as the worst team in the Big Ten coming into the season. Indiana continues to let small shifts in momentum turn into major game-changing runs.
2. Rutgers dominates the offensive glass. It was a key to the game coming in. Rutgers has a major size advantage, and they used it to secure 13 offensive rebounds. That’s right on their season average which ranks in the top 25 nationally. The offensive rebounds only resulted in eight second chance points, but it also forced a thin Indiana rotation to defend for extra possessions while a much more balanced Rutgers rotation saved energy.
3. The poor shooting continues. At one point this season, Indiana was the second best team in the country from the field. Now they have gone three straight games under 40%. Indiana was near 50% early when they had the 10 point lead, but Rutgers clamped down and the Hoosiers didn’t handle the pressure and physicality well. IU continues to get very few assists out of the offensive sets, resulting in a lot of challenged one-on-one play.
We’ll have our complete game Report Card later this evening.
FINAL BOX SCORE AND SPECIALTY STATS
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