Rutgers was leading 20-18, playing with confidence, and looking like they were going to hang with Syracuse, at least for a little while.
And then Syracuse woke up.
That's basically all you need to know. Rutgers ended the half with 20 points, and Syracuse had 39. The game was over from that point on. 78-53 was the final score.
There were three problems with this game on the Rutgers end. First, Rutgers defense is just not good enough right now. They get the initial stop, but can't rebound the ball. Too many open back doors for dunks. Too many open threes. It appeared Rutgers was a step slow on the defensive end tonight.
Next, Syracuse's length bothered Rutgers. The guards were unable to drive because the length at the top of the zone. Passes to the inside were tipped or bothered because the big men couldn't see them well enough to make clean catches. It gave the Orange time to recover and
foul the heck out of Wally Judge block the shot. The zone length forced plenty of turnovers as well. And, when Eli Carter started hitting 3 point shots, Syracuse basically extended the zone until it was out of his range.
And finally, Myles Mack was non-existent. Not sure whether he was still sick or the zone bugged him as well, but he wasn't there. Something to keep an eye on.
Want some positives?
Eli Carter with 19.
Jerome Seagears had his best game of the year.
The team never stopped hustling. It never felt like they quit or even stopped following the game plan. They kept sharing the ball.
Kadeem Jack is going to be very good. Had 13 rebounds tonight, a career high. In fact, Rutgers outrebounded Syracuse.
Pittsburgh, a much better match-up, comes to the RAC on Saturday morning. A much better measuring stick than this game.