Hoosiers head east desperate for a positive result
Archie Miller has a Rutgers problem. Well, sure, he has a bunch of problems related to his Indiana basketball program. But Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights have this guy’s number. And that’s a problem.
Rutgers has won four of the past five meetings with IU, including the last two games at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Of late, Steve Pikiell’s crew has been so good in this series that we’ve been forced to change the CQ style guide. Yes, Rutgers. You got the ~S~ back. And the ~Capital R~. It’s time.
Way to go, Arch.
The Jan. 24 meeting in Bloomington served as a get-right game for Rutgers, which had dropped five in a row entering the matinee. In their 74-70 victory over the Hoosiers, the Scarlet Knights barreled their way toward the basket for easy looks, scored 12 points directly off of a flurry of IU second-half turnovers, and pushed around a flat-footed group of Hoosiers. Simply put, Rutgers was the aggressor. Indiana gave in and offered little resistance.
For IU, one name has topped the Scarlet Knights scouting report over the past few get-togethers: Geo Baker. The veteran guard is averaing 12 points and shooting 44% from 3-point range across six career games in the head-to-head series. Entering last month’s meeting, Baker had totaled only 39 points during his team’s five-game losing streak. Then, he walked into Assembly Hall and dropped 19 on Indiana. Such is the relationship between Baker and the Hoosiers.
Just like the January meeting with IU, Rutgers heads into this one without much traction. The Scarlet Knights have dropped three of their last four after losing a home game to Maryland on Sunday afternoon. Things are messy on the offensive end, where Rutgers has failed to score more than a point per possession over each of its past three games. The team’s effective field goal percentage has been under 45% over that same span, and the Scarlet Knights have made only 12 of their last 53 attempts (22%) from beyond the arc.
Along those lines, Ron Harper Jr. isn’t shy about shooting 3s, but he’s also not very good at making them. Harper has drained only one of his past 27 looks from beyond the arc, and he’s shooting just 31% from the perimeter on the year. Inside the arc, Harper can be a problem. He’s shooting 54% on 2-pointers this season — and he’s hitting at a 62% clip inside the arc in four games against Indiana.
Point guard Jacob Young has put together a nice year in the backcourt, leading the Big Ten with 1.7 steals per game. Young has scored in double figures in all but five games, and he’s averaging 16.6 points over his past three contests.
Things to watch
Myles Johnson vs. TJD
Johnson won his matchup with Trayce Jackson-Davis in the Jan. 24 game, holding the Hoosier sophomore to 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting. The 6-foot-11 Rutgers forward has a 7-foot-7 wingspan and a zeal for disrupting shots around the basket. He also grabbed a clutch offensive board in the final moments of the first game in Bloomington that helped Rutgers seal the win.
Does the bench provide anything?
Indiana reserves combined for their second-lowest scoring output of the season against Michigan State, providing just five points in support. The three freshmen to see the floor — Anthony Leal, Khristian Lander and Trey Galloway — went 0-for-4 with three turnovers. Galloway was a minus-10 over his nine minutes of action. Mid-to-late February is typically wall-hittin’ time, but IU needs something from this group, including Jordan Geronimo.
Which guard steps up?
New game, same question for Indiana’s backcourt. Will Armaan Franklin see anyone help out around him? By now we know that IU can count on Franklin. But the rest of the guards? Ehhh. There’s no telling.
Here’s a stat:
In six career games against Rutgers, Al Durham has not missed a free throw. The four-year guard is 20-for-20 at the line. May that streak continue.
Game Info / How to Watch
Who? Indiana (12-10, 7-8) at Rutgers (12-9, 8-9)
Where? Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J.
When? Wednesday, 8 p.m. Eastern
Channel? BTN | Kevin Kugler (p-b-p), Stephen Bardo (analyst)
Radio? IU Radio Network; Sirius 106, XM 196, Internet 958: Don Fischer, Errek Suhr & Joe Smith
Vegas? Indiana -4