NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Dane Miller #11 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates the overtime victory over the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
For one half, at least, it all clicked. Dane Miller took charge, the defense forced a ton of turnovers, and the freshman drove the basket and scored. For the first time since 2005, 6 Scarlet Knights scored double figures. They survived a bumpy first half and finally looked like a team.
More after the jump...The first half was ugly. No other way to put it. The freshman looked like freshman and Sacred Heart was knocking down threes. Every time Rutgers would get close, a freshman would make a mistake and fall behind again. At halftime, Rutgers was down 3 and looking like a team that didn't get off the plane back from Miami.
But that all changed after halftime. Myles Mack hit a three to get the team going. Dane Miller forced some turnovers. The team pressed and forced turnovers. They shot 81 percent in the second half. That bears repeating. Rutgers shot 81 percent in the second half.
Gilyvdas Biruta, Jerome Seagears, Miller, Mack, Eli Carter, and Mike Poole all score in double figures. Seagears led the team with 17 points. What had seemed like a stuttering offense through 2 and a half games finally seemed crisp. It appeared the light went on for both point guards, and the offensive sets started to hum.
Where Rice was screaming in anger in the first half, in the second, he was screaming in excitement in the 2nd. The play of the game came when Biruta stole the ball and pushed it up court in a fast break. He dished it to Mack, who in turn tapped it back to him for a dunk. Just an all around pretty play. A sign that, when Rutgers gets its engine going, the fast break is going to be fun to watch.
Not that there wasn't any ugliness in the 2nd half. The refs turned the game into a foul fest, blowing the whistle nearly every time down the court during the last 6 minutes. The freshman still seemed a step slow on defense, letting players blow by them. But they gave the fans a glimpse of what's to come.
The question is, did the light go completely on or did it only flicker? A whole season remains for us to find out.