Indiana played about 35 terrible minutes, but used a couple bursts to keep Rutgers at bay on Wednesday and earn a lackluster 79-72 victory in Piscataway.
What did we learn?
1. JBJ isn't the only problem on defense.
The Hoosiers announced about an hour before tip-off on Wednesday that they would be without James Blackmon, Jr., who injured his knee in practice this week. Deep down, you probably thought the defense would be better without Blackmon. Instead, the defense was bad still. Rutgers shot 43.8% from the field and really hurt the Hoosiers in transition, scoring 35 points off of 23 Indiana turnovers. Simply, JBJ isn't the only problem on defense.
2. Indiana got something that every team needs to win.
No team can win without having a guy or two who can step up when the stars don't have it going. Wednesday, Robert Johnson and Thomas Bryant were absolutely terrible. Yogi Ferrell has seven turnovers. JBJ was out with an injury. And the entire team (minus Hartman) was ice cold from three in the first half. But after Rutgers took it's only lead of the game in the second half, Bedford-native Ryan Burton came in off the bench and spurred an 11-0 run with a corner three and a couple other nice plays, and then played another handful of quality minutes to finish with 6 points. And Max Bielfeldt, who has been fine, but not great thus far, went for 18 and 14 to power Indiana through the struggle during the other 30 minutes. On a rare occasion when none of the regulars had it going for Indiana, a couple contributions from unexpected places saved the day.
3. Rutgers blew it, and now they may go 0-for.
Rutgers is bad. Really bad. So no one should celebrate this victory. But Rutgers fans should be sick. They had an apathetic Indiana team who played without its starting two guard, whose starting center played six minutes, scored three points, and fouled out, and who turned the ball over 23 times. They had that Indiana team at home. And they still lost. Rutgers is, unquestionably, the worst team in the Big Ten and they won't get many better chances to steal a win. Tom Crean should feel lucky, because losing to Rutgers during this Big Ten season will be a fireable offense for anyone.