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IU men’s basketball heads to Rutgers searching for first road win



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IU teammates smile during a huddle after sophomore guard Rob Phinisee scored in the first half Jan. 11 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

If Big Ten play has taught fans anything this season, it’s that everything can change on any given day. Big Ten teams at home are 30-5 as of Monday. 

IU men's basketball goes on the road again this week to face Rutgers at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Rutgers has won two of its last three games against IU. 

The Big Ten season for the Hoosiers has been laden with the peaks and valleys of a conference that is among the deepest in the nation. It had blowout losses on the road against Maryland and Wisconsin. IU is 3-2 overall in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers are still without a win on the road this season. 

IU itself has been the epitome of the Big Ten’s inconsistency. It had an upset of its own Saturday against then-No. 11 Ohio State, after nearly having been upset Wednesday against Northwestern. Ohio State was ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP Poll. But four straight losses later, the Buckeyes are tied for last in the conference. 

Rutgers is tied with IU at 3-2 in the Big Ten and is 12-4 overall. The Scarlet Knights haven’t finished with a winning record since the 2005-06 season. This year has been a renaissance for a long time bottom-feeder program. Head coach Steve Pikiell’s team has picked up statement wins at home over then-No. 20 Penn State and Seton Hall University.

IU will be searching to find consistency as it looks for its first road win. Its performance against Ohio State, though not flawless, was a reminder once again of IU’s ability to compete against the best teams in the country. It has two wins over teams ranked at the time of the game, both in blowout fashion. 

Against both Florida State University and Ohio State, senior guard Devonte Green showcased the offensive ability that led head coach Archie Miller to regard him as IU’s most talented scorer before the season. He was IU’s leading scorer in both games, and in both performances he did not commit the turnovers and wild shots that have long plagued him. 

When the Hoosiers have had the best side of Green, they've been at their best. 

“I thought he got recommitted to doing things the right way every day,” Miller said after Saturday’s win over Ohio State. “It's not about game day. We just talked about it the other day, you can't practice soft and play hard. You can't practice soft and play hard.”

But juxtaposed against the resume-building wins are performances like those against the University of Arkansas, Northwestern and Maryland that reaffirmed concerns about the offense. 

IU’s own inconsistent performances have been representative of a conference that has been just as unpredictable. Rutgers has been inconsistent in its own right this season, despite its best start in years. IU has a chance to get past its own road woes and display some semblance of consistency.

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