There’s no denying the fact that the Indiana basketball program not only struggles on the road, but also struggles with consistency. Tuesday was no different in its disappointing 66-57 loss at Rutgers.
It is now the fifth-straight loss at Rutgers — every loss coming with the same flaws. Those flaws haven’t just been singled out against the Scarlet Knights, however.
Indiana is now 9-17 in games away from Assembly Hall under Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson. In nearly every loss away from home, toughness, shooting and turnovers were the route to a loss.
That sentiment was echoed on Tuesday night.
“We came into the game knowing that this team is a great offensive-rebounding team. So that hurt us,” Woodson said postgame. “Then the turnovers hurt us again and you’re not gonna beat teams on the road doing that.”
Indiana finished with 18 turnovers that resulted in 18 Rutgers points. It was a trend that started right from the tip. Indiana turned the ball over on four of its first seven possessions en route to 11 first-half turnovers. 12 of Rutgers’ 30 first-half points came off of turnovers.
It follows up Indiana’s last road game against Nebraska when Indiana turned the ball over 19 times.
And again, offensive rebounds were a thorn in Indiana’s side. After 17 offensive rebounds for Ohio State last weekend, it was another major issue on Tuesday. Rutgers had 19 offensive rebounds — a season-high for an Indiana basketball opponent.
That resulted in 12 second-chance points.
Between second-chance points and points off of turnovers, Rutgers scored 30 of its 66 points from Indiana mistakes.
“With the turnovers and offensive rebounds, I’m surprised we were even that close when you look at the stat sheet,” Woodson said.
Rutgers came in ranked 333rd nationally with a 44.7 percent effective field goal rate, so easy opportunities in transition and at the rim were two areas that Indiana needed to limit.
On top of the mistakes was the poor shooting. Indiana countered with its ineffective rebounding efforts and sloppy play by shooting 4-of-15 from the free throw line. It was the seventh time this season in which Indiana shot below 65 percent.
Rutgers was 19-of-28. That was eight more than its previous high against a power five opponent.
So, a deficit of 35 points came from free throws, points off of turnovers and then second chance opportunities.
Indiana now enters the middle of January with an NCAA Tournament resume lacking consistency and flash.
“Continue to work. That’s all you can do. You got to continue to work.,” Woodson said postgame about improving its consistency. “So, we’ll go home, go to practice tomorrow and get ready for Minnesota (on Friday). We have to continue to work to get better and I got to get them over the hump. I got to figure that out.”
Midway through year three for Mike Woodson and it’s the same messaging — ‘I got to get them over the hump’.
Talk is cheap. There’s no more ‘figuring out how to get them over the hump’. For such an inconsistent team, it’s been the one consistent message. Enough is enough. Indiana basketball needs to figure things out quickly or else postseason hopes will continue to be much of an afterthought.
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