For the first 25 minutes of the game, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights just wanted it more.
And then DePaul decided to start playing. And they closed a 15 point deficit to 1. The game then started to gain momentum and it began to feel like one of those games.
But Rutgers held strong.
More after the jump...James Beatty started the game and score 7 of Rutgers' first 11 points, and the game looked like it was going to go Rutgers way. The team really played smart, patient offense. They knew when to pull it back and take time off the shot clock. They knew when to punish the DePaul Blue Demons' press and get open looks on the fast break.
Early in the second half, Rutgers had opened their lead to 15.
Then, slowly, in the second half, it started to fall apart. Brandon Young got hot from outside and Rutgers went cold. DePaul was able to get to within 43-42.
But Jonathan Mitchell and Dane Miller weren't going to let that happen. Mitchell scored 13 points in the second half and finished with 18 total points. Miller came out of nowhere with a putback dunk to silence the crowd. He scored 12 points and pulled down 9 rebounds and was clearly the best player on the court tonight.
Each of Rutgers' starters scored at least 8 points. The team only turned the ball over 9 times and not at all int he second half. They were hungry and still wanted to win. Tonight's game was a battle, but RU was able to pull it out. At times it looked like Mike Coburn wanted to give the game to DePaul. His floater, that had been so effective the past few games, was not working tonight. He was unwilling to abandon it, however.
Robert Lumpkins did not make the trip, as per the coach's decision.
Now, Rutgers has a big game against the Providence Friars on Saturday night. The Knights are locked in against Seton Hall in the 12-13 game in the first round of the Big East Tournament, but the team still has a shot to go .500.
Keep an eye out here for Mike Rice's postgame presser in the coming minutes.