PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Indiana has been a notoriously slow starter all season, but in just a matter of minutes against Rutgers on Wednesday night, the Hoosiers had a sudden and stunning 15-point lead.
It turned out the be the least relevant lead of the season.
Those first 10 minutes were tremendous, but then everything completely fell apart from there and Rutgers cruised to an easy 74-63 win over the Hoosiers. It's Rutgers' third straight win in this series, and the second win this season.
For Indiana, the loss dropped them to 12-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big Ten, and it was a devastating blow to their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Hoosiers now need to win their final three games to have a winning record, but that will be tough with No. 3 Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue on the ledger.
The embarrassing loss put a damper on big nights by sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior guard Al Durham. Jackson-Davis had his 22nd career double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Durham had 20 points. He had 11 points in the first six minutes as the Hoosiers dashed out to a 23-8 lead.
But the rest of the Hoosiers did nothing, some literally. Rob Phinisee was 0-for-7 shooting and did not score. Armaan Franklin, Indiana's second-leading scorer, was 0-for-3 in the first half and didn't play at all in the second half. Backup point guard Khristian Lander was 0-for-3.
Outside of Jackson-Davis and Durham, the rest of the Indiana team was just 8-for-33 shooting on the night.
Rutgers has gotten well on the Hoosiers all season. The Scarlet Knights came to Bloomington in late January on a five-game losing streak, but then beat the Hoosiers 74-70.
It was no different Wednesday night. Rutgers had lost three of four games and, much like Indiana, their NCAA tournament hopes were starting to slip away. They needed a win as badly as Indiana did.
But they were awful early, missing their first seven three-pointers and letting Jackson-Davis go wild inside during those first 10 minutes.
Then the switch flipped.
They wound up making 11 of their next 21 three-pointers and quickly erased that 15-point Indiana lead. It was all gone by halftime, with Rutgers leading 35-31.
The Scarlet Knights came out blazing in the second half, too, and the lead was up to 20 in a matter of minutes. That run was 57-22, Rutgers. Indiana's defense completely collapsed and Rutgers attacked the rim. They had nine dunks in the game.
Geo Baker and Ron Harper jr. each had 20 points for Rutgers. Harper, who was 4-for-43 shooting from three coming into the game, made 4-of-7 threes. Baker made six three-pointers.
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