Defense is a beautiful thing when played well. And last night Rutgers played it as close to perfection as possible. Myles Mack, Jerome Seagers and Eli Carter pressed and fell back into a zone, completely confusing LSU. Gilvydas Biruta got his hands on balls. Mike Poole picked up 5 steals.
If you'd only watched Rutgers on the defensive end, you'd have said they ran away with the game.
Unfortunately, the team has to play offense as well.
More after the jump...
The game basically came down to four possessions. LSU's Anthony Hickey hit a floater with about a minute left to give LSU a one point lead. They also landed a dunk, when the broke RU's press with 12 seconds left.
Meanwhile, Rutgers' freshman guards flubbed two straight possessions. Myles Mack drove to the basket, drew the defenders and dished it to Seagears. Seagears was wide open for a three from the corner. He hestitated an instant and was guarded. Deciding instead to try and create, he eventually found Carter, who ended up getting called for a charge.
On the next possession, with Rutgers down 3, Carter tried to create and find himself open, only to turn the ball over.
Rutgers' offensive problems against mid to high-major problems is beginning to become a problem. Dane Miller seems content to pass the ball to the freshman, who hesitate to try and make the big shot. Gilvydas Biruta has been the only consistent scorer, but he was in foul trouble the entire night. When he fouled out with over 4 minutes left, the entire complexion of the game changed.
Rutgers is going to have to work on playing a team offense and taking the open shots. If this doesn't turn around, they could be looking at a lost season. Already, a 7-5 non-conference record would be the best possible outcome. There are flashes of talent out there, and when RU forces turnovers and gets out in the fast break, they look really good.
But until this team executes in the halfcourt consistently, they're going to have trouble closing out games.