Mike Rice gets the win his predecessors never could. - Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
A hard fought 58-56 win. A heartstopper, one might say.
Kevin Bannon couldn't beat Seton Hall or Georgetown.
Gary Waters couldn't beat Virginia Tech or Pittsburgh.
Fred Hill couldn't beat anyone (or, the one time they had any chance, Seton Hall).
Mike Rice couldn't get the big win last year.
Time and time again, Rutgers has gotten a big win or two at the RAC, and not been able to follow it up to really get the Scarlet Knights some momentum. They had an opportunity tonight, after beating Pittsburght last Saturday. It took every ounce of energy, effort, and tenacity they had, but Rutgers got a huge road win. They beat St. John's, who was coming off an equally big win and wanted this game just as badly. Now, for the first time since that Gary Waters era, Rutgers is 2-1 in conference.
And, with a gigantic match-up against Cincinnati on Saturday night, Rutgers has some momentum.
They opened the game hot, jumping out to an early 13-2 early. Eli Carter hit two 3s and Myles Mack hit one. But the Red Storm woke up and D'Angelo Harrison did everything he could to keep St. John's in it. The Johnnies lead 27-23 at half.
But, Rutgers was able to use the foul line and senior leadership to survive. Austin Johnson hit lay-up after lay-up and finished with 10 points. Dane Miller scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
Everyone contributed. When Eli Carter couldn't get himself back on track, because of the Storm's length, he distributed. Mike Poole hit some huge shots. Mack hit four free throws in a row down the stretch.
But still, the game was in doubt. Harrison missed a free throw and Rutgers held a slim lead. Mike Poole went to the line and missed the front end of a 1 and 1. Harrison came down the court with about 25 seconds left and bricked a three. Again, Rutgers couldn't get the ball to Mack or Carter--the two best FT shooters in the league. Poole found himself at the line, with Rutger up 1 and only 6 second left.
He hit the first.
Missed the second.
Rutgers was able to keep the ball out of Harrison's hand, but JaKarr Sampson had it. He took an off balance three.
Rutgers wins a huge road game, and now, they have momentum.
The Bearcats, the number 20 team in the country, but losers of 2 straight are on their way to the RAC Saturday night.
Hopefully, the students, the season ticket holders, and the casual fans are too. Because this Rutgers team is a fun one. And they need the RAC to be loud.
Gary Waters era loud.
Because Mike Rice has another chance to get a big win.