In its first game in the Big Ten Tournament, the Rutgers men’s basketball team defeated Indiana 61-50, advancing the team to the next round tomorrow night to play against Illinois. The Scarlet Knights (15-10, 10-10) improve to 3-0 on the season against the Hoosiers (12-15, 7-12) and match last season’s total of 11 wins against Big Ten opponents.
Rutgers started off the game slowly, missing its first six three-point attempts and being down 6 at the first media timeout. Indiana was led early by Trayce Jackson-Davis, who continued his hot start throughout the game, finishing with a team-leading 19 points and nine rebounds.
For most of the first half, the Knights trailed due to their poor shooting and the strong play from Jackson-Davis. It took more than 18 minutes for Rutgers to gain a lead, when senior guard Geo Baker stole a pass and slammed down a breakaway dunk, giving the Knights a 1-point lead that they would take into the half.
The second half began much like the first, as both teams started out slow, with fifth-year senior guard Jacob Young scoring the first basket of the half, 2 minutes in. Jackson-Davis once again took the game into his hands, scoring 3 of the Hoosiers' first 6 baskets and putting them ahead by 3 before a Rutgers timeout.
For the next three minutes, the Knights and Indiana traded the lead back and forth, before sophomore guard Paul Mulcahy hit two corner threes in a row, giving Rutgers a lead it would not relinquish. The Hoosiers had chances to come back into the game but missed six free throws in the last 5 minutes to seal the game.
The Knights were led in scoring by Young and junior guard Ron Harper Jr., who both finished with 13 points on the night. Harper Jr. and junior center Myles Johnson both finished with double-doubles, as Harper finished with 11 rebounds in addition to his 13 points, and Johnson added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Baker finished with 7 points and seven assists. As a team, Rutgers shot 40 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from behind the arc and hit 7 of its 9 free-throw attempts.
For Indiana, Jackson-Davis finished as the only scorer in double-digits, with Aljami Durham finishing second with 9 points. The Hoosiers had an inefficient night shooting, with Indiana finishing at 37.5 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from three and only 40 percent from the free-throw line, missing 9 of its 15 attempts.
With tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m., the Knights move on to the quarterfinals tomorrow night, where they will match up with the Fighting Illini (20-6, 16-4).
“Getting here and finally being able to play in the Big Ten Tournament, finally being able to play later on in March, is just such a great feeling,” Johnson said after the game. “We’ve got to take each game one at a time.”
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