Hoosiers seek turnaround in showdown with Scarlet Knights

Bloomington, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Both the Rutgers Scarlet Knight and the 22nd-ranked Indiana Hoosiers will be looking to end losing streaks as they meet head-to-head Saturday in a Big Ten Conference battle at Assembly Hall.

 

Rutgers has dropped five games in a row - all in Big Ten play - to fall to 10-12 on the season. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 71-51 crushing defeat at the hands of Michigan State Thursday, which set the team back to 2-6 in conference action.

 

Indiana heads into the weekend having lost two straight games, the first to Ohio State (82-70) and the second to Purdue (83-67) - both on the road. The Hoosiers fell to 15-6 on the year, with a 5-3 mark against league competition. But Indiana has performed exceptionally well at home, owning a 12-1 record in Bloomington.

 

This contest will mark just the second meeting all-time between Rutgers and Indiana, two brand new conference rivals. The Hoosiers own the only other decision in series history, when the team took a 55-50 victory back in the 1980 season.

 

Michigan State was able to overcome 17 turnovers in the game against Rutgers to hold the Scarlet Knights to just 29.1 percent shooting from the floor for the 20-point victory. Rutgers allowed the Spartans to connect on 50.9 percent shooting in the contest, which included an 8-of-20 mark from 3-point range. Kadeem Jack was the only Rutgers player to net a double-digit scoring total in the contest, recording 17 points with seven rebounds. Bishop Daniels added nine points for the Scarlet Knights, and Myles Mack dished out a team-best four assists in the lopsided defeat.

Mack has been the heart and soul of this Rutgers team for the duration of the season, but recently the 5-foot-10 guard has cooled off in terms of production. Still, he currently leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.0 ppg with a team-high 97 assists, adding in 4.7 rpg - third on the team behind Junior Etou's 6.8 rpg mark and Jack's 6.4 rpg. Jack is the only other player to own a double-digit scoring mark this season, chipping in 13.3 ppg for Rutgers, which is in last place in the Big Ten rankings in terms of scoring offense at 58.9 ppg. The team's defense has made up for some of the offensive shortcomings, holding opponents to 63.5 ppg.

Indiana was simply outplayed by Purdue on Wednesday night when the Hoosiers fell to the Boilermakers. Purdue was able to hit 58.7 percent of its shots from the floor, while Indiana connected non a mere 37.9 percent shooting in the contest. Yogi Ferrell stood out with 21 points to pace the Hoosiers, while James Blackmon Jr. contributed 13 points in the team's loss. Indiana connected on just 4-of-19 shooting from 3-point distance Wednesday, and was outscored by the Boilermakers in terms of bench points, 31-14.

 

The last two games have been very uncharacteristic of Indiana's offense this season. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in scoring, putting up 80.7 ppg on an impressive 47.9 percent shooting from the field, which includes a 40.2 percent shooting touch from 3-point range. Blackmon and Ferrell are neck and neck when it comes to owning the team's individual scoring lead. Blackmon currently paces the squad with 16.3 ppg, while Ferrell chips in with 16.2 ppg - ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in the conference. Troy Williams rounds out the team's double-digit scorers with 12.9 ppg. But with the good comes some bad for the Hoosiers, who are last in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 72.4 ppg to opponents.

 

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