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Defense, Robert Johnson and the Undershirt lead Indiana to Victory

Indiana’s Robert Johnson drives to the basket against Michigan State on February 3, 2018. Johnson finished with 19 points tonight at Rutgers in the 65-43 win. (Mackenzie Salmon/HN)

Indiana stopped its four game losing skid in New Jersey Monday night with a 65-43 win over Rutgers (12-14, 2-11 Big Ten).

It was just a normal night for Juwan Morgan, who scored 24 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. However, this is almost expected at this point. Hoosier fans expect to see Juwan give everything he has, and that usually results in a solid night.

Here were three things not named Juwan Morgan that stood out in the Hoosier victory.

1. The Defense

Everyone knows that Archie Miller’s staple is defense. His teams aren’t going to run the score up on you or try and get as many possessions as possible. His teams are going to try and out defend you and out hustle you.

Indiana put that blueprint on display Monday night, holding Rutgers to 43 points and 24-percent from the field.

“I thought defensively, we were pretty good,” Miller said postgame. “It gave us a chance to get out in transition and do some things.”

Rutgers’ 43 points was the least points scored on IU this season. Northwestern scored only 46 points against Indiana.

This was the lowest points allowed for Indiana against a Big Ten team since Iowa also scored just 43 against the Hoosiers in 2008.

2. Robert Johnson and the Undershirt

Tom Pritchard, freshman year Victor Oladipo, Juwan Morgan. What do all these players have in common? They all wore undershirts when playing for IU.

Add Robert Johnson in New Jersey. Johnson pulled out the red undershirt with the red shooting sleeve en route to 19 points, shooting seven-of-13 from the field and three-of-six from the three-point line.

Johnson made his first three shots of the game to help IU grab an early 11-3 lead. The Hoosiers would never trail.

“Rob, I thought stepped up and made a couple big ones tonight,” Miller said.

Since the Notre Dame game, where Johnson scored 20 points on five-of-10 from beyond the arc, Johnson has scored in double figures in 12 of the 15 games. He has scored 20 or more four times in that stretch and has made a three pointer in all but two games in that stretch as well.

Johnson is playing with much more confidence than he was early in the season, and that’s leading to not only more made threes, but more drives to the basket for layups and floaters.

3. New Starting Lineup

Miller tweaked the starting lineup Saturday when Freddie McSwain was inserted in place of Justin Smith. Tonight, Miller made another switch, starting Devonte Green over Josh Newkirk.

Green played 30 minutes while Newkirk played just 15. Green ended the game with nine points to go with four assists.

“That’s the one thing Devonte’s actually really done a nice job with probably in three of the last four games is being able to get some guys some easy ones,” Miller said.

Green had a good game in his first start in some time. Meanwhile, McSwain had another solid game on the glass in start number two for the senior. McSwain grabbed nine rebounds and made all four of his free throws after going 0-for-4 from the line against Michigan State.

Miller told reporters before the season it wasn’t about who starts the game but it’s about who finishes the game. However, he has made a lot of changes to his starting lineup lately.

“That lineup deserved to be on the floor to start the game, from a productivity perspective,” Miller said.

BONUS. The Short Turnaround

It’s been well documented that the Big Ten is killing their quality of basketball by sandwiching these games into one fewer week of the season. Tonight was Indiana’s third two-day turnaround in as many weeks.

The Hoosiers came out hot against Illinois, but their tired legs caught up to them in the second half and both teams couldn’t shoot, producing an ugly game that was very difficult to watch.

Last week, IU came out very flat against a well-rested Ohio State team and was blown out from the start.

This time around, IU was ready even with the short turnaround.

“We talked a lot about coming in here tonight and just trying to establish an effort level and a toughness level that wasn’t there last week,” Miller said. “I thought our guys did a nice job responding in that way.”

What’s Next?

Indiana will come back home to take on Minnesota and Illinois in the next week. The Minnesota game is on Friday night at 7:30. The Hoosiers are looking to sweep the season series against the Golden Gophers.

“We’re just looking forward to Minnesota,” Miller said, “We dropped our last two conference games at home and that bothers us.”

Austin Render

I am a sophomore from Fort Wayne, Indiana majoring in Sports Media. Last year I worked with IUSTV Sports doing recap and feature packages for IU field hockey, women's basketball and baseball. I am one of the current WIUX Co-Sports Directors. I am a student broadcaster for WIUX as well as Big Ten Network Student U. You can reach me at austinrender99@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter @austinrender.

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