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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Indiana

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers just didn’t have it today and lost 89-73 to a surging Indiana Hoosiers. Four Thoughts:

Rutgers Wasn’t Rutgers: The Hoosiers were able to do whatever they wanted throughout this game. Rutgers wasn’t able to lock them down on the boards and they weren’t able to slow down their shooting. It never felt like Rutgers was able to find their game today. I don’t know if it was adjusting mentally to the suspension of Issa Thiam (Thiam hasn’t played much this season, but he is a teammate), trying to bounce back from the heartbreak against Penn State, or the inevitability of the Hoosiers on Senior Day, but Geo Baker couldn’t get it going, and the Scarlet Knights’ big men, Myles Johnson and Shaquille Doorson were in foul trouble for a lot of the game. There were a few loose balls that Rutgers did not get on the ground for. The senior Juwan Morgan did whatever he wanted, and once Rutgers got down, they were never able to get up. They were unable to play Rutgers basketball.

The Refs Played a Part: I probably jinxed Rutgers going into the Big Ten Season, but the referees definitely helped Indiana early. Looking at the box score won’t tell you the full story, as the Hoosiers actually outfouled Rutgers 25-23, but when the fouls came was key. The Hoosiers were able to get to the line often early in the game, finishing and-ones through a bunch of touch fouls on Rutgers. Once, in the second half, when Indiana built their lead up, the Scarlet Knights started to draw fouls, but the game was well out of hand by that point.

Eugene Omoruyi and Caleb McConnell: Omoruyi was able to get his points down low scoring 18 points. And McConnell was impressive in the first half, as he tried to keep Rutgers within distance of the Hoosiers. McConnell finished with 17 points, and the unsung member of Rutgers freshmen class really put together a solid conference season. A lot to look forward to here with Johnson, Montez Mathis, Ron Harper Jr and McConnell. There are going to be days going forward where all four put it together on a bunch of nights.

Didn’t Get the Bye: So, nothing came up Rutgers today as Penn State beat Illinois, ensuring Rutgers finishes 12th. They will face Nebraska in the early game Wednesday night. They missed their opportunity to get the bye by losing to Penn State last week. That was the moment. However, this season is a step forward for the Scarlet Knights and there is hope on the horizon. For the first time, they did not finish in last place, and they battled nearly everyone down to the final buzzer. Nebraska is one of those games that can go either way. Rutgers beat them down the stretch at the RAC earlier this season, but they do have talent. Who knows if Rutgers can do it again? Will be fascinating to watch.