Mike Rice sent the walk-ons out with the pads during the halftime lay-up line.
And they were off.
More after the jump...It was an ugly first half, tied 25-25. No one had stepped up for Rutgers, and the lay-ups were rolling in and out. As usual the defense was as good as it could be, but something felt off. Rutgers didn't feel all there.
The frats and sororities had stepped up and filled the student section. They'd been cheering, but even they were letting the energy seep out, as Rutgers came out flat. But Mike Coburn scored 13 off the bench. Jonathan Mitchell poured in 20. And James Beatty got 20, including 18 in the second half.
For a stretch, Beatty was unstoppable. He drove the lane to the basket. He hit floaters. And when they sagged off him, he hit the threes.
Meanwhile, the defense collapse on the USF big mean, Augustus Gilchrist and Jarrod Famous. Neither really impacted the game until garbage time, when they were desperate for points. What really kept USF in the game most of the night were free throws. They team went 15-17 from the line, and got there by driving the lane.
Rutgers did well from the line as well, shooting 17-21.
And Mike Rice. Wow, was Mike Rice fired up. He screamed at Mike Coburn for a good minute and half after a blown assignment. He tore into the refs on a perceived missed call. And after USF's 5-0 run to start the 2nd half, he called a 30 second time out and ripped the entire team.
And Rutgers responded. They're now 2-4 in the Big East and 11-7 over all. And now they travel to Seton Hall on Saturday.
The new coach has made this season watchable. He's made it interesting. He's made it fun.