Indiana, Rutgers look to move closer to NCAA Tournament

NCAA Basketball

Indiana is falling short in its season-long quest to find consistency.

Rutgers, meanwhile, has been in an offensive funk recently.

It will be a crucial game for both teams when Indiana (12-10, 7-8) plays at Rutgers (12-9, 8-9) in a Big Ten Conference game Piscataway, N.J., on Wednesday night.

Both Indiana and Rutgers need winning records to help them reach the NCAA Tournament. For the Scarlet Knights, it would be their first trip to the tournament since 1991, while Indiana hasn’t gained a berth since 2016.

The Scarlet Knights haven’t scored more than 66 points in each of their past four games, going 1-3. Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, however, refused to solely blame the offense for his team’s most recent outing, a 68-59 home loss to Maryland on Sunday.

“We just have to play better,” Pikiell said. “This is a really good league in all areas. We have two days to get ready for a very good Indiana team, and you have to play better than that in a league like this.”

Indiana is coming off a 78-71 home loss to Michigan State, a game in which the Hoosiers let an early 13-point lead slip away. Indiana hasn’t won or lost more than two games in a row all season.

“Frustration comes into play when you have the opportunities to take advantage of and you don’t,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said on his radio show Monday night. “We’ve had our opportunities to build momentum with big wins throughout the year.”

The most recent time the two teams played, Rutgers posted a 74-70 victory on Jan. 24, winning at Assembly Hall for the first time in program history. Rutgers’ Myles Johnson bottled up Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, holding the Hoosiers’ top scorer to 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field while forcing him into four turnovers.

“They are a tough team,” Miller said. “They have an approach where they take you out on the outside concrete and they will play right there. They’ve got some tough guys. They’ve got an attitude about them, an edge about them.”

Jackson-Davis is coming off a career-high 34 points against Michigan State and has nine double-doubles this season.

Ron Harper Jr., who is averaging 15.5 points a game, while Jacob Young adds 14.4, but Harper was held to six points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field against Maryland.

“We’re having a good year,” Pikiell said. “We just have to finish some things off. I have a lot of confidence in these guys, and I have a lot of confidence in my staff, too.”

–Field Level Media

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