Indiana defeats Rutgers 79-72 in Big Ten opener
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) If it were up to Max Bielfeldt, he'd probably play every game at the RAC.
''I had a good game here last year too. Maybe it's the lighting. Maybe it's the rims,'' Bielfeldt said. ''I like playing here.''
Bielfeldt came off the bench and had a double-double, matching a career-high in points with 18 on 8-of-14 shooting while grabbing 14 rebounds, to lead Indiana past Rutgers 79-72 on Wednesday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Kevin ''Yogi'' Ferrell added 18 points and seven assists for the Hoosiers (11-3) and Troy Williams had 10 points and six rebounds.
Rutgers took its only lead of the game, 44-43, on a 3-pointer by Corey Sanders assisted by D.J. Foreman with 15:49 left.
Indiana answered on the following possession with Ferrell's layup that started an 11-0 run which Ferrell capped with a 3-pointer with 12:07 left in the game to make it 54-44.
''We kind of found our groove,'' Bielfeldt said. ''We're a team that when we get going we're hard to stop and we kind of hit that and tried to ride it as long as we could. When everyone gets going and all cylinders are firing we're a well-oiled machine.''
Rutgers (6-8) was led by Omari Grier with 20 points, four rebounds and three steals.
''We're happy with his growth,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. ''From day one we said be aggressive, so I guess it took him two months to be aggressive and good things to happen.''
Greg Lewis had 13 points and nine rebounds and Sanders scored 17, dished out five assists and had two steals.
Rutgers made it a two-possession game, 58-52, after a Jonathan Laurent dunk assisted by Sanders with 8:42 left. Six would be the closest the Scarlet Knights would get the rest of the game.
Grier made it 72-66 with 1:16 remaining, but didn't convert the 3-point play as he missed his free throw after he was fouled on his layup.
Indiana jumped out to an early 9-3 lead after a 3-pointer by Collin Hartman off a pass from Williams. Rutgers would tie the game at 14 after Grier had a put-back with 13:39 left in the first half after a missed fast break layup by Sanders.
Indiana then went on a 16-4 run capped off by a dunk From Juwan Morgan with 7:21 left in the first half to make it 30-18. The Scarlet Knights answered with a 16-4 run of their own, ending with a layup by Bishop Daniels with 50 seconds to tie the game at 34 at halftime.
''I think they're going to have a really good team,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said. ''I think we'll look back on this game and know that we were happy and fortunate to get it.
Indiana: The game marked the fourth time the Hoosiers has played Rutgers. They are now 4-0 against the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers: Grier is coming into his own at Rutgers. The graduate transfer from Bradley scored 20 points after putting up 22 points last game, including six 3-pointers on seven attempts. Grier was averaging just 5.3 points per game heading into the game.
TIP OF THE HAT
''I think he's getting better and better. I think he's going to be a great player if he continues to work and lead his teammates,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said of Rutgers' Corey Sanders. ''Seeing him in person and watching all of his shots on film, to me, he has some things that are high level. That step-back move going right, changing direction, cross-over, burst, strength, it's all there. He's going to be a great defender.''
STEALING THE SHOW
Rutgers had 14 steals as Indiana turned the ball over 23 times. Bishop Daniels led the Scarlet Knights with five steals
JAMES BLACMON JR. OUT
Blackmon was hurt toward the end of Indiana's practice on Monday with an undisclosed injury and missed the game today. Crean said he is still being evaluated.
Indiana: At Nebraska on Saturday.
Rutgers: At Wisconsin on Saturday.