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Three Things: Rutgers 74, Indiana 63

Make it stop. All of it.

Indiana v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The death spiral has begun.

Indiana blew a 15-point lead and lost to Rutgers 74-63 on Wednesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Here are Three Things:

Well, that was a disaster

If not for the late-game, 3-point wizardry of Jordan Geronimo, this would’ve been a 20-point loss for Indiana. At Rutgers. In Year 4 for Archie Miller.

Sure, IU held a 23-8 lead 10 minutes into Wednesday’s game, but even that felt like fool’s gold. Al Durham had 14 of those points while shooting the ball out of his dang mind. Nothing about that start — as encouraging as it was — felt sustainable. And it wasn’t, with Rutgers outscoring IU 27-8 over the final eight minutes of the half. Although Durham and Trayce Jackson-Davis combined for 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting by halftime, the other seven players to see the floor during the opening period totaled just five points while missing 11 of their 13 collective shots. Indiana collapsed, just as it did against Michigan State on Saturday. Only this time, the Hoosiers didn’t make anyone wait until the intermission to see the bottom fall out.

I don’t know, you guys. There’s nothing that’s new or novel to say at this point. The Archie Miller era just needs to end. It’s not working — it hasn’t been working — and with the season in its waning days, IU is no closer to establishing an identity than it was four months ago.

Oh, that supposed defensive identity? IU has now allowed each of its past four opponents (Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State and Rutgers) to produce more than a point per possession. During Big Ten play, the Hoosiers rank 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Bart Torvik, and dead last in the conference in 3-point percentage defense (36.9%). Huh. But it wasn’t just the long-range shots that did Indiana in on this night. Nine of Rutgers’ 19 2-pointers were dunks. Egad.

Another backcourt 0-for

For the second straight game, Indiana saw two of its starting guards go scoreless from the field. This time, it was the combination of Armaan Franklin and Rob Phinisee. Franklin at least had an excuse; an aggravated ankle injury limited him to just 16 minutes, all of which came during the first half.

Phinisee, meanwhile, is just lost. At one point during the Big Ten Network broadcast, analyst Stephen Bardo said something along the lines of, “He just needs a hug.” I endorse that sentiment, because something is so clearly broken with him. It’s hard not to feel for the guy.

It wasn’t just Phinisee, though. The point guard spot gave IU absolutely nothing. Not only did Phinisee and Khristian Lander combine to go 0-for-10 from the field, they produced six turnovers against two assists.

Slumping? Call Indiana.

Rutgers snapped a five-game losing streak when it went to Bloomington and pushed around IU last month. Michigan State looked lost before it traveled to Assembly Hall and seized a come-from-behind win last weekend. And Ron Harper Jr. couldn’t buy a 3-pointer until the Hoosiers showed up in Piscataway on Wednesday. Harper was 1-for-27 from beyond the arc over a seven-game span leading into the IU matchup this week, but broke out of his slump with a 4-for-7 night from distance.

All told, the junior headlined a resurgent long-range shooting effort for the Scarlet Knights, who tied their season high with 11 3s against the Hoosiers.

Up next? Michigan. And the Wolverines don’t need the help the Hoosiers have been all too willing to provide.