Indiana suffered its first loss of the season at Rutgers 63-48 on Saturday at Jersey Mike’s Arena.
Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Scarlet Knights:
Rutgers has the IU number
Defeating the Scarlet Knights has been a challenge for Indiana over the years. At the start of Saturday’s matchup, Indiana was 1-7 to Rutgers in their last eight matchups. And it was even harder for Indiana to beat Rutgers at Piscataway. The Hoosiers have not left Jersey Mike’s Arena with a win since February 2018.
Gathering these statistics can be difficult. For most of Rutgers’ history as a program, it served as a punching bag. But head coach Steve Pikiell has taken the program in a different direction as he searches for the team’s third straight NCAA tournament spot. The Scarlet Knights are no longer a punching bag. The program is impressive and consistently competes in the Big Ten.
That’s something Indiana didn’t realize. There was a lot of gossip from Trayce Jackson-Davis and other IU players about not beating Rutgers in New Jersey during their collegiate career. This looks like it will stand. We know it will be like that for Jackson-Davis, who won’t get another chance unless he shocks college basketball and returns for a fifth season.
Perhaps it’s the working class attitude and underdog mentality that’s helped Rutgers soar. Or the coaching. Or the great performances from guys like Ron Harper Jr., who single-handedly finished Indiana’s Senior Night last season. Whatever it is, Indiana just can’t figure it out.
Hoosiers rely on Miller Kopp for 3-point shooting
Miller Kopp was the best Hoosier on the floor on Saturday afternoon.
The fifth-grader finished off the field with 21 points in 8-on-12 shooting, hitting five 3s in the process. It was the kind of performance fans had come to expect from him after joining from Northwestern a year and a half ago. But that’s it. If you exclude Kopp, who is shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc this season, Indiana shot 1-for-16 on 3s.
A miserable performance, but no surprise. No one has managed to match Kopp’s efficiency, or even come close to matching it. That was the story of the Hoosiers’ first eight games. There were flashes of players like Tamar Bates, who clipped the ball high in Indiana’s win over Jackson State. But Kopp was the only consistent one.
This doesn’t work in Big Ten play and it didn’t work against Rutgers. Bates, Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson shot together 3 for 22 from the field on Saturday.
“Our offense tonight was terrible,” said Mike Woodson after the game.
Indiana missed Jalen Hood-Schifino
Prior to the tip, it was announced that Jalen Hood-Schifino would miss his first Big Ten game with back pain.
“Jalen is evaluated every day. We just have to go home and try to groom him again and get him ready for Wednesday,” Woodson said. “Hopefully gets him ready for Wednesday.”
There’s not much reason to worry about the newcomer’s health, but not having him on the ground made a difference. It’s evident how a secondary ball handler in the lineup helps Indiana distribute the ball, distribute the ground and take the pressure off Xavier Johnson.
Johnson felt that burden against the Scarlet Knights. At times, the fifth year seemed uncomfortable, unsure, and out of control. Johnson ended the contest by shooting 2-for-11 from the field, with four fouls and six turnovers in 34 minutes.
He just looked like he was pushing all game and trying to make a game when the game wasn’t there. Hood-Schifno gives ‘X’ some freedom, plays the ball more and takes a breather. Johnson didn’t have that luxury and it made a difference.
Hood-Schifino’s gifted composure, composure and patience were in demand at Piscataway.
Indiana was passed and Rutgers was the tougher team
The Hoosiers gave up a paltry 17 offensive rebounds to Rutgers, resulting in 17 points for the second chance. That was a big difference in the game.
Rebounding is one of those things that mostly consists of effort and attention to detail. Indiana failed to do so as the Scarlet Knight passed the Hoosiers by 14.
“It takes effort to block and rebound the basketball and we just didn’t do that tonight,” Woodson said. “It’s an area where we need to get better as a team.”
In particular, Woodson mentioned how Indiana guards struggled to finish and finish work on the glass. There were several occasions when Rutgers guards smashed the glass and ran around their defender to retrieve the board.
Rutgers’ physicality was an issue for Indiana. The Hoosiers struggled to get the 50-50 balls and deal with the defensive pressure.
The offense goes with Trayce Jackson-Davis and Trayce Jackson-Davis didn’t go
We saw just how dominant TJD can be in Wednesday’s win over North Carolina. But against Rutgers, he shot 5-for-11 from the field and 3-for-6 from the foul line. The All-American fouled for the first time in his career and turned over the ball four times.
As soon as he hit the post, a double team ensued and turnovers ensued. Jackson-Davis had been so good at getting out of the doubles team so far this season, but he looked uncomfortable on Saturday.
In Saturday’s loss, the rest of the Hoosiers failed to create space and get the ball. The boys stood still, waiting for someone to play a game. It was a recipe for disaster, as Indiana’s 48 points is the lowest total for a Mike Woodson team.
Though he ended up with a double-double, it was an ugly performance for Jackson-Davis. The rest of Indiana’s offense followed.
(Image credit: IU Athletics)
Filed by: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Miller Kopp, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Trayce Jackson-Davis