Indiana Daily Student

Offensive drought against Rutgers didn’t hinder Indiana, gives blueprint for Michigan game

<p>Junior guard Trey Galloway lays in a shot Feb. 7, 2023, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers face the Wolverines Saturday at 6 p.m.</p>

Junior guard Trey Galloway lays in a shot Feb. 7, 2023, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers face the Wolverines Saturday at 6 p.m.

During its battle for second place in the Big Ten against No. 24 Rutgers on Tuesday, No. 18 Indiana men’s basketball’s offense turned stale. 

With 10 minutes to go, and a shot to finally snap a six-game losing streak against the Scarlet Knights, the Hoosiers missed seven consecutive shots over a period of 8:43. 

Indiana’s lead shrank from 10 points to 3 points, but despite the drought, never vanished completely. 

So how did Indiana work through the dry spell and what can the Hoosiers learn moving forward? 


Any lengthy period of time without baskets provides opponents a chance to completely swing the game. 

While Indiana’s offense was absent, its defense kept pressure on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights shot 33% over that timeframe, making 5-of-15 shots, a mark lower than its total game average of 39.7%. 

“I'm proud of this team, man, because there's no quitting,” head coach Mike Woodson said after Tuesday’s game. “They grind. They try to do whatever it takes to win and tonight we did that.” 

Indiana’s defensive intensity was the difference in a low-scoring victory over Wisconsin on Jan. 14, and its lack of intensity was to blame in a blowout loss to Penn State on Jan. 11. 

Against Michigan on Saturday, a team that shoots slightly better than Rutgers, Indiana’s defensive effort will need to remain consistent in the road environment. The Wolverines are 10-3 at home in the Crisler Center. 

Free throws

Indiana didn’t make a field goal for over eight minutes, but it didn’t go scoreless either. Indiana scored 5 points between senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis' two buckets, capitalizing on six trips to the charity stripe. 

Freshman forward Malik Reneau made one of two attempts, and freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and senior forward Race Thompson both made two free throws to help Indiana maintain its lead. Overall, the Hoosiers shot 17-for-24 from the line, a 70.8% clip nearly identical to its season average of 70.7%. 

While the shots weren’t falling, Indiana was still fighting to the basket to earn shooting fouls. More importantly, Indiana took advantage of those chances to extend its lead — a critical bridge for the offense. 

“We had not beaten this team in some years, and they kind of have had our number,” Woodson said. “You start looking over your shoulder a little bit when I think they cut the lead to three, and we make two free throws to extend it and then we started to make plays.” 

Energy and effort

Indiana’s season has hinged on whether energy and effort were there in its biggest moments. In three Big Ten losses to start the year, the Hoosiers either couldn’t close out a big lead or couldn’t bring the offensive firepower until it was too late

Tuesday against Rutgers, as the offense stuttered, it felt like another chance for the Hoosiers to give up and once again fall to their biggest conference weakness

It didn’t happen. 

“Everybody that played helped gut this game out,” Woodson said. “That team plays hard, man. You know we couldn't really get nothing going down the stretch from an offensive standpoint in terms of moving. We became stagnant. But our defense was solid, and we just kept grinding and grinding and we got stops when we needed.” 

Rutgers raced back from a double-digit deficit, and Indiana fought to keep the deficit open, despite what Woodson said was a tired-looking team late in the game. 

Indiana’s grit in the scoring drought kept it in the game long enough for the offense to reawaken and secure the win. The effort looked the same as it had in its wins this season starting with the renewed effort against Wisconsin. 

“We started playing with a chip on our shoulder and it was the same thing tonight,” Jackson-Davis said. “They were being tough, but I thought we were being tough right back.”   

On Saturday, for the second-straight game, the Hoosiers will take on an opponent in a battle for second in the Big Ten, with the Wolverines now one of four teams matching Indiana’s 8-5 mark in conference play. Michigan has won three straight games in the Big Ten. 

The game will tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.

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