James Blackmon Jr. sat out Wednesday afternoon's game with a knee injury, but it didn't factor too much in the final result, as Indiana dispatched of Rutgers in New Jersey, 79-72, to earn its sixth straight victory.
Blackmon's absence was noticeable early, as his nearly 16 points a game were visibly missed while the Hoosiers struggled to keep the Scarlet Knights down. Indiana blew a 12-point lead as Rutgers closed the first half on a 16-4 run, scoring the half's final nine points to tie the game at 34 at the break.
Omari Grier was huge in the first 20 minutes, scoring 15 of Rutgers' 34 first-half points.
The Knights hung around for a little bit at the outset of the second half, even leading four minutes in. But the Hoosiers sprinted out on an 11-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Ryan Burton and Yogi Ferrell, that returned Indiana to a double-digit advantage. The Hoosiers' lead didn't dip below six the rest of the way.
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Indiana struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over a whopping 23 times leading to 37 Rutgers points. But the Hoosiers splashed in 10 3-pointers and shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the second half.
Yogi Ferrell scored a team-high 20 points, but it was reserve forward Max Bielfeldt who starred, posting a double-double with a career-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. His production was huge as big man Thomas Bryant was limited to just three points as he was in foul trouble throughout the game. Troy Williams scored 10 points.
The win gave the Hoosiers a quality start to Big Ten play and sent them to 11-3 on the season, including wins in each of their last six games. Next up is Nebraska on Saturday.
The loss sent Rutgers to 6-8 on the season. The Knights have dropped 16 straight Big Ten contests and next face Wisconsin on Saturday.