NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - FEBRUARY 19: Gilvydas Biruta #55 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights dunks against Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half at Louis Brown Athletic Center on February 19, 2012 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Basically the game came down to two shots. The freshman from Rutgers missed one and the senior from Syracuse made one.
With just over a minute left and Rutgers down four, Eli Carter brought the ball up and took a quick--but wide open--3 pointer. Had it gone in, the RAC would have gone ballistic. Instead, it rattled out and the Orange came away with the ball; it was in Scoop Jardine's hands. The senior, who'd been driving to the hoop all day, took two steps toward the basket froze and launched a 3 over Jerome Seagears.
And made it.
Rutgers was down 7 and they wouldn't be able to recover.
More after the jump...Gilvydas Biruta had a game. The sophomore was active the entire afternoon and scored a career high 21 points. His lay-ups and dunks went in this time. It wasn't like he was playing with a lid on the hoop. Biruta also had 7 rebounds. Mike Poole also kept Rutgers in the game in the second half, by getting to the middle of Syracuse's 2-3 zone.
Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Rutgers mixed their switching man-to-man with a 2-2-1 zone, frustrating Syracuse early. However, when the Scarlet Knights were in the zone, they were unable to compensate for the weakside and the Orange were able to get several alley-oop dunks. Most of them by C.J. Fair.
The game really came down to Rutgers inability to make 3 pointers. They only made 3 while taking 18. When Rutgers got the ball inside, they had some great success. The freshman guards didn't succeed on offense (though they played well and under control). They did convert 9 of 11 free throws.
Rutgers is still a work in progress and the signs that Mike Rice is doing a very good job is there. Now the Knights have to build off this loss. There are still four games left. Marquette is next and that's a tough match-up. But the three after that are winnable. Seton Hall is a toss-up, where Rutgers can play spoiler. Then they take on the struggling Villanova and St. John's teams.
Still time left in this season... Rutgers needs to keep playing this way.