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Indiana Basketball’s road struggles continue in disappointing loss to Rutgers

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Jan 9, 2024; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Trey Galloway (32) looks to pass as Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Noah Fernandes (2) defends during the first half at Jersey Mike's Arena. © Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The struggles away from home continued for Indiana basketball who dropped to 2-4 when playing outside of the state of Indiana on the season.

In what was a physical low-scoring Big Ten battle, Rutgers took down Indiana winning 66-57. The win was their fifth consecutive home victory over the Hoosiers and their first Big Ten win of the season.

The recurring issues for Indiana basketball continued in an abysmal effort on Tuesday night.

For starters, Indiana struggled to take care of the basketball. After only having three turnovers in the win against Ohio State, the Hoosiers finished with 18 turnovers against Rutgers.

The offensive performance was eerily similar to the loss against Nebraska when Indiana had 19 turnovers on the road.

Specifically, the Indiana starting backcourt was especially bad in the loss. Xavier Johnson who was ejected after being called for a flagrant foul, finished the game with 2 points 2 assists and 5 turnovers.

His backcourt mate Trey Galloway finished the game with 8 points while shooting 4/13 with 5 assists and 2 turnovers.

For a backcourt in their 4th and 6th years of college, this type of performance can’t keep happening if this team wants to accomplish anything this year.

At times Indiana basketball has shown they are capable of competing with anyone, but other times they look like they might not make the tournament.

The Jekyll and Hyde of this team is a real concern and it starts with the inconsistency of the guard play.

Against Ohio State the starting backcourt combined for 22 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and only one turnover in the win.

“We haven’t played well here [at Rutgers],” Mike Woodson said about playing on the road. “When you turn it over and give up offensive rebounds like we did and can’t make free throws, it’s hard to win on the road.”

Another recurring issue has been the free throw shooting and Tuesday night it was one of the differences in the loss.

In a game they lost by nine, Indiana basketball shot 4/15 from the free throw line.

“If I had a magic pill that I could give them about making free throws I would,” Woodson said about the struggles at the line. “It’s all mental. … When you get fouled and you gotta go to the line they’re free. … We gotta get better at making free throws. You’re not going to beat teams in the Big Ten doing that.”

While free throw shooting has not been a strength for Indiana, Tuesday’s free throw shooting performance was their worst of the season and the first time they shot under 50% from the line this year.

Just like the other problems, Indiana’s rebounding struggles have been an issue since the first game of the season. While tonight was not nearly as bad as its been, Indiana was out-rebounded by 11 and allowed 11 Rutgers’ offensive rebounds in the loss.

“With the turnovers and the offensive rebounds, I’m surprised we were that close when looking at the stat sheet,” Woodson said postgame.

Despite Kel’el Ware’s 17 rebounds, Indiana lost another rebounding battle and the effort of the guards was a big factor. The IU guards have been repeat offenders of leaking out in transition, instead of crashing the glass with the bigs.

All of these recurring problems have one thing in common, they all stem from effort and mental toughness. The effort and mental toughness of this team are a real problem.

“We gotta continue to work. That’s all you can do,” Woodson said about what they can do to fix the issues facing the team. “So we go home and go to practice tomorrow and get ready for Minnesota. We have to continue to work to get better. I gotta get them over the hump, I gotta figure that out.”

Indiana basketball will have the chance to bounce back from this performance when they host Minnesota on Friday at Assembly Hall.

SEE ALSO: HoosierIllustrated Postgame Wrap-Up: Kyler and Drew discuss Indiana basketball’s loss against Rutgers

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustratedpart of the Full Ride Network, on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for HoosierIllustrated.com and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew graduated from Indiana University's Sports Media program in 2024.

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