Monday, February 05, 2018 9:20 pm
Quick thoughts: Indiana 65, Rutgers 43
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
How it happened
Indiana (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten) dominated the opening minutes of the game on both offense and defense, bringing great energy to the court for a second consecutive game. The Hoosiers sprinted to a 22-6 lead while hitting five of their first seven triples and limiting Rutgers to just one field goal in its first 11 attempts.
Particularly important in the early going was Robert Johnson, who scored 11 points in the half and made his first two 3-pointers after going 3 for 21 from the field against Ohio State and Michigan State. Johnson scored the first five points of the game, helping his team get off to a good start.
As the half wore on, the Hoosiers went cold from the field, missing five consecutive shots at one point and going more than five minutes without scoring. During that stretch, Rutgers (12-14, 2-11) had its only sustained success of the half, embarking on an 8-0 run to cut the IU lead to single digits.
The Hoosiers recovered and led 26-16 at the break after holding the Scarlet Knights to 21 percent shooting in the half. Only three Indiana players scored in the opening 20 minutes, as Morgan's 10 points and Devonte Green's five added to Johnson's 11. Importantly for the Hoosiers, Rutgers guard Corey Sanders went 0 for 4 from the field in the half and finished with just one point after having a huge 31-point performance Saturday against Purdue.
Rutgers' shooting didn't improve at the outset of the second half. After scoring on its second possession of the half, the Scarlet Knights missed nine straight shots and went scoreless for more than four minutes. Indiana took advantage, opening its lead back up to as many as 16, after a third triple of the night from Morgan. The lead might have been even bigger, but Johnson missed three consecutive free throws.
The anemic Rutgers offense allowed Indiana to extend its lead despite not shooting particularly well itself. Near the 13-minute mark of the second half, Johnson drove to the hoop and scored with a foul (and made that free throw). Two possessions later, forward Collin Hartman made his first triple of the night, ballooning the Indiana lead to 20 points at 42-22. At that juncture, Rutgers had gone without a field goal for close to seven minutes.
Rutgers made a momentary bid to get back into the game, making back-to-back triples to cut the Indiana lead to just 13. That was as close as the Scarlet Knights got, though, as the Hoosiers slammed the door with a 9-0 run. First Morgan scored with a foul, staring down the Scarlet Knights for a second after the shot. Then, Johnson laid the ball in after taking a nice pass from Zach McRoberts. Green put an exclamation point on the spurt with a tough pull-up jumper pushing the lead to 22, the Hoosiers' largest of the night. The Scarlet Knights didn't threaten again as Indiana cruised to a victory.
Player of the Game-Juwan Morgan
The junior big man continued the best stretch of his IU career, essentially scoring at will down low against the overmatched Scarlet Knights. He had averaged 23 points per game over his previous five contests and finished with 24 against Rutgers, while also snatching eight rebounds. Morgan went 10 for 14 from the field, including 3 for 4 from the 3-point line, equaling a season high for triples in a game.
The Hoosiers snap a four-game losing streak, while Rutgers has now lost six in a row. ... Indiana is 6-0 all-time against the Scarlet Knights. ... Devonte Green started in place of Josh Newkirk, while Freddie McSwain got his second straight start. ... After out-rebounding Michigan State 53-29, the Hoosiers beat Rutgers 42-39 on the glass. ... Johnson finished with 19 points, moving past Tom Bolyard for 28th place on the all-time IU scoring list. ... The Hoosiers went 9 of 20 from beyond the arc, shooting above 35 percent on 3-pointers for the first time in eight games. ... Sanders finished with just nine points for the Scarlet Knights on 1 of 11 from the field. ... Rutgers shot 24 percent as a team, a season-low for an Indiana opponent. ... The Hoosiers held a 17-0 advantage in points off TOs. ... Deshawn Freeman led the Scarlet Knights with 13 points and added eight rebounds ... Indiana went 8 of 18 from the free throw line.
The Hoosiers have three days off before returning to action at Assembly Hall Friday against Minnesota (14-11, 3-9 Big Ten). The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. and be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. The Hoosiers beat the Golden Gophers earlier this season in Minneapolis, 75-71. Robert Johnson has a career-high 28 points in that game, while Justin Smith also had a career-best with 20 and Juwan Morgan added 20 more. Minnesota has lost of eight of its last nine.