BLOOMINGTON – Armaan Franklin scored 14 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished three assists and Indiana had its best 3-point shooting game of the season, but weren't able to get enough and stops and fell to Rutgers 74-70 at Assembly Hall this afternoon.
The Hoosiers fall to 9-7 and 4-5 in Big Ten play.
- The regression bug bit hard: Indiana's defense, which looked so good in the second half against Iowa on Thursday, was not nearly the same this afternoon. Some regression to the mean was almost certain to happen – Indiana had a once-in-a-season performance against the Hawkeyes, holding maybe the best offensive team in the country to 26% shooting in the second half – but today the pendulum swung the opposite direction. The Hoosiers' defense was not even average for much of the game against the Scarlet Knights, giving up too many easy baskets inside and letting a struggling team shoot 51% from the field and 61% from 2-point range. So much came easy for Rutgers, especially in the first half, it was easy to forget how dominant Indiana looked against the Hawkeyes. They had one good game, but the consistency clearly isn't there quite yet.
- Rutgers frustrated Jackson-Davis: The 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball has been one of the Big Ten's hottest players in recent weeks – he'd scored 20-plus points in five of his previous six games – but the Scarlet Knights found the formula to slow him down. That is, throw plenty of length at him – 6-foot-11 centers Myles Johnson and Cliff Omoruyi handled that – and occasionally send a double team at him in the post so he can't get too comfortable and set up a move to get around the taller players. Not every team has the size that Rutgers does, so the Scarlet Knights are an unusually difficult matchup for Indiana's star forward. Late in the game, Jackson-Davis seemed a little hesitant to attack the rim, meaning that Rutgers took him out of what he wanted to do in large part. The sophomore finished with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting and seven rebounds, plus four turnovers and Indiana needs more than that from him to win games. He did have two blocks and two steals.
- Is that ... shooting?: Indiana's biggest liability for four years under coach Archie Miller, the defect that has kept it from being far more successful than it otherwise would be, is a lack of outside shooting. Don't look now, but that might finally be changing. In its last two games, the Hoosiers are 18 for 33 (54.%) from 3-point range, including a 10-for-16 performance today. They also went 9 for 24 two weeks ago against Nebraska. Today, everyone got in on the act, with Jerome Hunter nailing a couple of huge 3s to stop a Rutgers surge in the first half, Armaan Franklin draining three of his own and even freshman Khristian Lander getting two to drop. That pair from Lander is particularly significant because he's been struggling with his shot all season. If seeing a couple finally drop gets his confidence to begin to rise, the five-star true freshman could finally become a contributor on this team. Of course, it's extremely frustrating that one of the Hoosiers' best shooting performances of the season came in a game where their defense was so subpar. Shots from beyond the arc helped Indiana get back into the game late, but it wasn't enough because the Hoosiers had dug themselves a 14-point hole. This felt like a wasted opportunity for Indiana.
Player of the Game: Geo Baker
The Rutgers guard was a playmaker all afternoon for the Scarlet Knights, pouring in 19 points to lead all scorers and dishing five assists. He went 7 of 15 from the field and 4 for 9 from 3-point range and added a steal.
The Scarlet Knights snapped a five-game losing streak. ... Jackson-Davis came into the game No. 1 in the country in free throw attempts with 139. He went 5 for 7 from the line today. The Hoosiers went 12 of 17 overall. ... IU entered the game averaging only 8.3 turnovers in its previous three games. It gave the ball away 12 times, leading to 14 Rutgers points. ... Indiana was without freshman starting guard Trey Galloway, who missed his second straight game with a sore back. Rob Phinisee started in his place once again. ... Johnson had eight points, eight rebounds, five blocks and three steals for the Scarlet Knights. ... Lander's six points were the most he's had since a 10-point performance against North Alabama on Dec. 13.
It's unclear when Indiana will play again. With Michigan's decision to shut down its entire athletic department for two weeks starting Saturday night, it appears the Hoosiers' matchup with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, scheduled for Jan. 30, will be postponed. After that IU's next scheduled matchup is at Assembly Hall against No. 22 Illinois on Feb. 2. However, there is a chance that the Hoosiers' postponed matchup against Michigan State in East Lansing, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, could be rescheduled into this break. Otherwise, Indiana will have nine days off before it plays again.