Rutgers uses a 22-0 run to beat slumping Indiana, 66-58
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers and Indiana are streaking.
The upstart Scarlet Knights are on a three-game win streak in Big Ten play for the first time in school history, slowly climbing out of the conference basement under third-year coach Steve Pikiell. Meanwhile the Hoosiers once-promising season has hit a seven-game skid under second-year coach Archie Miller.
Eugene Omoruyi had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Geo Baker had 16 points and five assists as Rutgers used a 22-0 run to come back and beat Indiana 66-58 Wednesday night.
“We weren’t really even thinking about how many points we were scoring,” Baker said of the run. “I knew that they weren’t scoring and that was the main thing. Keep locking them up, keep playing good defense.”
Ron Harper Jr. had a fast break dunk followed by a 3-pointer after back-to-back Indiana turnovers as Rutgers (11-9, 4-6 Big Ten) ended the first half on a 9-0 run, cutting Indiana’s lead to 29-28.
“That three I hit in the corner - I feel like that was huge,” Harper Jr. said. ”(Eu)Gene (Omoruyi) has been throwing me that pass in the corner for the last couple of days at practice. He said Indiana’s going to dig in so just be prepared for me to throw a rocket your way and shoot it and it happened.”
The Scarlet Knights started the second half on an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game since 3-2.
Indiana (12-9, 3-7 Big Ten) scored with 3:48 left in the first half on Aljami Durham layup. The Hoosiers wouldn’t score again until Romeo Langford, who had a game-high 20 points, hit a 3-pointer with 14:29 to go to stop the bleeding and end Rutgers’ 22-0 run - its largest in Big Ten play - and make it 41-32.
Langford got Indiana within seven, scoring with 6:09 to go and again with 2:43 to play on a pair of free throws. A Juwan Morgan layup made it 58-53 with 2:00 left, but that’s the closest Indiana would get.
“It’s not magic. stick with it. Have to hang in there with it,” Miller said. “At some point in time, if you keep showing up every day and you keep doing it the right way and keep finding a way, eventually something good will happen, and once that happens, that can cause the next chain of events, but it’s a difficult league to play in, especially when you’re not playing your best . We’ll see. I think everyone in the whole world wants to see if we’ll respond at some point in time and I think we will”
Indiana: After a few weeks in the Top 25 earlier in the season, peaking at No. 21, the Hoosiers have lost seven in a row. It’s the worst losing streak for IU since 2010-11, when they lost their final nine Big Ten games, including the first round of the conference tournament. Indiana’s last win was versus Illinois Jan. 3.
Rutgers: This was a big step for the Scarlet Knights as they continue to climb out of the basement of the Big Ten, winning three in a row for the first time in school history. The last time Rutgers won three-straight conference games in the regular season was 2003-04, when they won four-straight as members of the Big East. Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Indiana still leads the all-time series 6-2, but Rutgers picked up its first home win in the series. Previously 0-3 at home, Rutgers’ only other win versus Indiana came last year in the second round of Big Ten Tournament, overcoming a 16-point deficit to win 76-69 at Madison Square Garden.
Indiana is in the midst of a tough stretch where they’re playing six of eight games on the road. The Hoosiers will get six of nine games at home starting Feb. 7.
Indiana: At No. 6 Michigan State Saturday night.
Rutgers: At Ohio State Saturday.