The Minute After: Rutgers

  • 01/09/2024 10:16 pm in

Thoughts on a 66-57 loss to Rutgers:

There are poor performances.

And then there’s what happened tonight in Piscataway.

Indiana was downright, no good, unfathomably … awful.

Let us count the ways:

1. The Hoosiers made 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from the line. Yes, you read that right. Mackenzie Mgbako entered the contest shooting 34-of-36 (94.4 percent) from the charity stripe. He missed three (2-of-5) in this game — more than he’d missed all season to date — and his percentage now sits at 87.8 percent as a result.

2. Indiana had three different players airball a 3-pointer in the second half. Mgbako, CJ Gunn and Trey Galloway all failed to draw iron. Galloway also came close to airballing a free throw as well. He barely drew the front of the rim on an empty trip to the line in the second half.

3. Indiana scored just .76 points per possession. That’s the second-worst of the Mike Woodson era. The only other performance lower than this? Last year against Rutgers in Piscataway, where the Hoosier mustered just .72 points per possession.

4. Indiana allowed Rutgers to rebound 37 percent of its misses leading to 12 second-chance points. The Hoosiers also turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions (18 total), leading to 18 points for the Scarlet Knights. Those 30 points combined off offensive rebounds and turnovers accounted for 45 percent of Rutgers’ 65 points this evening.

5. Xavier Johnson turned the ball over five times in 23 minutes … and then promptly got ejected from the game for hitting Antwone Woolfolk below the belt. It’s the type of performance Indiana simply can’t have from its sixth-year point guard.

Beyond all this, the Hoosiers actually shot a high volume of 3-pointers in this one. Some of it was due to all the pressure down low, though Indiana also started firing away late to try to get back in the ball game. But they connected on just seven for 26.9 percent, just slightly better than their free-throw percentage on the evening. Rutgers’ elite defense made things tough in the paint for Indiana. The Hoosier shot only 9-of-19 on layups. Malik Reneau did finish 6-of-10 from the floor for 13 points, but he was continually hounded and turned the ball over three times. He looked uncomfortable most of the game.

Indiana did find some success in the first half with Kel’el Ware, as his size was a clear advantage en route to eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. It looked to be a point of emphasis to get him the ball early in the second half. But Ware missed three shots in the first minute-plus and then turned the ball over a minute after that. Rutgers didn’t make it easy on him. He shot just 1-of-5 in the second half, his lone make a 3-pointer.

The Scarlet Knights are not a good offensive team this season and only scored .88 points per possession themselves. Most nights, if you hold a team that low, you give yourself a very good chance to win. But Indiana got down by 11 in the second half with 5:35 to go and that was about all she wrote on this one.

Perhaps worst of all? As Rutgers was in the midst of extending that lead, Indiana’s body language was poor. The Hoosiers looked flat and resigned to defeat.

Indiana’s gotta flush this one for good and move on. Up next are the Golden Gophers in Bloomington on Friday night, and they can ill afford to have any lingering effects from tonight’s disaster carry over.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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