BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — One step forward, one step back.
After an inspiring win at No. 4 Iowa on Thursday night, Indiana (9-7, 4-5 B1G) could not build on the victory, falling to Rutgers (8-6, 4-6 B1G), 74-70, on Sunday. It’s Indiana’s third home loss in conference play.
Trey Galloway did not suit up for a second straight contest, so Archie Miller trotted out the same five that began the game in Iowa City: Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis. On the Rutgers side, coach Steve Pikiell swapped in Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell for Jacob Young and Montez Mathis. The Scarlet Knights entered this game on a five-game losing streak.
Indiana jumped out to an 8-5 lead in the early going, thanks to some hot shooting from Phinisee. He scored five points in the first three minutes, and Durham knocked down a three as well.
Rutgers gained control of the game by pulling off a 10-0 run to go up seven. Junior center Myles Johnson made back-to-back buckets inside, and First Team All-Big Ten contender Ron Harper Jr. got off the mark with four consecutive points. Indiana went on a 4:17 scoring drought to add salt to the wound.
Indiana gradually cut into the Rutgers’ deficit, eventually regaining the lead with 7:11 to go. Jerome Hunter sparked Indiana with consecutive threes that took a chunk out of Rutgers’ advantage. Meanwhile, Jackson-Davis and Thompson asserted themselves in the paint.
In the final moments before halftime, Jackson-Davis emphatically threw down a jaw-dropping alley oop that will likely appear on SportsCenter later tonight. However, in the final possession before the break, McConnell swooped in for a putback that gave Rutgers a five-point lead. Freshman Jordan Geronimo, who had a breakout game for Indiana on Thursday, did not see the floor in the first half.
The second half started very unceremoniously for Indiana. Instead of coming out of the gates strong, the Hoosiers turned it over on five of their first six possessions. IU had just three turnovers in the first half. During IU’s struggles, Rutgers pushed their lead up to double digits.
With 14:43 to go, senior guard Geo Baker drilled a three to give Rutgers is largest lead of the game to that point, going up 13. Baker, who was named preseason all-Big Ten, led all scorers with 19 in the game. After another three-pointer with 8:57 left, Baker picked up a technical for jawing at Khristian Lander. Franklin made both free throws, narrowing Rutgers’ lead to seven.
Lander played the best game in his young career as an Indiana Hoosier. From the get-go, he was focused defensively, and he contributed two threes to give IU a glimmer of hope. Lander had just three total points in his last seven games, but he took a step forward today.
IU got to within three points of Rutgers down the stretch, but the Hoosiers could never get over the hump. This makes the second straight home game where Indiana did not hold a second-half lead, even though they entered the contest as favorites.
After electing to play out the final possession, instead of fouling a team that came into the contest shooting 57% from the line, Indiana allowed Myles Johnson to grab an offensive rebound with 8.7 seconds to go. Baker made one of two at the line to push Rutgers’ lead to four, and the Scarlet Knights sealed the game with a stop at the other end.
Indiana Box Score
Rutgers Box Score
Up Next: After Michigan suspended all athletics activity for two weeks, Indiana is currently scheduled to have eight days off before facing No. 22 Illinois on Feb. 2 in Bloomington. The game is slated to tip at 7 ET on ESPN or ESPN2.
Cover Photo: Indiana University Athletics