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  • Associated Press Indiana forward Juwan Morgan waves to the fans after being taken out for the last time on his Senior Day in Assembly Hall. He finished with 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting as the Hoosiers beat Rutgers to finish the regular season with four wins in a row.

Monday, March 11, 2019 1:00 am

Indiana 89 Rutgers 73

Morgan leads way in final game

Senior hits 25 as Hoosiers win 4th game in row

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – “Uncle J-Mo” got his exclamation point.

J-Mo, more commonly known as Indiana senior forward Juwan Morgan, finished his Assembly Hall career Sunday with a near-perfect game, scoring 25 points on 11-for-13 shooting and adding seven rebounds to pace the Hoosiers to a 89-73 win over Rutgers in front of an announced crowd of 15,426.

Morgan made his first 10 shots to help the Hoosiers (17-14, 8-12 Big Ten) build a comfortable lead and then capped his final home game with a flying two-handed dunk late in the second half. Less than a minute later, he exited the game and a wave of cheers built for one of Indiana's most important players over the last four years.

“Just coming out with a win, I think it was as good as it could have been,” Morgan said of his finale at Assembly Hall. “Just going out, last time on this court, in front of all these fans.”

Indiana rolled past the Scarlet Knights (14-16, 7-13) on Senior Day, capping the regular-season schedule with a fourth straight victory and getting one step closer to an NCAA Tournament berth. Romeo Langford added 20 points and six rebounds in perhaps his last game at Assembly Hall, while Devonte Green chipped in 16 points.

The Hoosiers' vast offensive improvement from just a month ago was again on display as they shot 53 percent and turned the ball over only six times. In its last two games, Indiana shot 54 percent overall and committed just 13 turnovers. Coach Archie Miller called the lack of giveaways “spectacular.”

“I think our guys have started to do a better job looking at film and seeing what's going on and we're adapting,” Miller said. “You see a lot more assists. You see a lot more open looks, and I think at the end of the day, it's not as robotic. It's not as stale. There's a lot more movement.”

Indiana used a 27-6 run early in the first half to take control and led by at least eight for the rest of the game. Morgan cemented the victory with nine points on two old-fashioned three-point plays and a shot from beyond the arc in a 2:05 span midway through the second half.

In the final minutes, Indiana's lead was comfortable enough for Morgan and fellow senior captain Zach McRoberts to get extended ovations as they left the court.

Once the game ended, the five Indiana seniors – Morgan, McRoberts, Evan Fitzner, Johnny Jager and Quentin Taylor – were each honored in turn and gave their thanks to fans and families.

Morgan spoke last and longest, thanking his teammates, who call him Uncle J-Mo because he's the one they ask if they ever need help with anything. 

“Actually I think De'Ron (Davis) has me as one of his emergency contacts,” Morgan said, laughing. 

It was a lighthearted moment, but it was indicative of how much Morgan has meant to this program as a leader and a teammate in the sometimes-rocky first two years of the Archie Miller Era.

“You know, seniors do one of two things,” Miller said. “They either run away because it's too hard and it's on them, or they just fight. Juwan is a fighter.

“It was great to see him finish the way he did, as well, to go out like that. He deserves it. Everyone else is following his lead.”

Indiana locked up the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten Tournament with the win and will play Ohio State in the tournament's second round 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

dsinn@jg.net