At the under four minute timeout, with Rutgers trailing by six, most fans must have been thinking "Aren't I ever allowed to get excited about this team?"
Rutgers was listless most of the night, with Yale having their way with the Scarlet Knights in the first half. The defense and rebounding-early in the game-was non-existent. At half time, Yale had show 54 percent and 50 percent from three point land. Rutgers, trailing by 3, looked a lot worse than that.
And then, after the half--it did get worse. The Bulldogs were able to extend the lead to 8, as Rutgers had trouble getting in sync on both ends of the ball. They were able to do this with their best player, and NJ native, Justin Sears on the bench with foul trouble. But the Knights eventually awoke.
Kadeem Jack scored 18 and continued to play like his high school ranking predicted. He even swished a 3 at one point. Myles Mack paced him with 17, including a solid 9-10 from the line. Malick Kone was a pleasant surprise, scoring 12 to try and keep the score close.
But the key moments came in the last two minutes as Rutgers rallied from a 6 point deficit. J.J. Moore showed he was a senior and hit two clutch threes, including one with about 26 seconds left to put the Knights up 1. The nearly empty RAC had a bit of a buzz to it, as the sparse crowd rose to their feet pleading for defense.
Rutgers promptly fouled Yale.
With 14.6 seconds left, and Rutgers down 1, Jerome Seagears fed Jack, who was fouled. Jack, 1 for 5 from the line previously, calmly swished both charity shots.
The last 14 seconds were just as bizarre. Rutgers tied up Yale--as the refs missed a clear travel. On the alternating possession, Yale kept the ball, which Mack stole. As he was pushed to the ground, he called timeout--but the refs decided traveling was a better call.
With 2.9 seconds left, Yale lobbed an inbound pass into the lane, and it was caught and shot at the hoop. The ball rattled out and Jack yanked it to safety.
Just another night, as Rutgers adjusts to Eddie Jordan's coaching. They are now 2-1 with the pre-season NIT and a chance to get to MSG looming next Monday.