The game opened with an alley-oop to Dane Miller. And at that moment, every Rutgers fan in the stands knew which team showed up. Even though the outcome was still in doubt, Rutgers was going to make this a dogfight.
And this time, it was the Huskies who couldn't keep up.
More after the jump...The Scarlet Knights are now 1-2 in the Big East and 9-7 over all. Eli Carter continued his rookie tour through the Big East tallying 19 points before fouling out. Myles Mack was also clutch, hitting some big 2nd half threes and making his foul shots to close it out.
But what was most interesting about this game was how much of a team win it was. No one hand a real standout offensive game (Carter was close) and everyone--from Austin Johnson to Derrick Randall--chipped in. The struggling Gilvydas Biruta demanded the ball and took it to the rim. Mike Poole hit big shots. On the offensive side, Rutgers was a team.
And on the defensive side, it was even more impressive.
In the first half, UConn shot around 50%. They lead by 2 at the half. But in the second half, Rutgers' defense frustrated Jeremy Lamb, holding him to under ten points for the first time this year. He also fouled out. The rest of the UConn team was flummoxed by Rutgers' zone, their switching man to man, and even the press.
Early in the game, Andre Drummond managed some showtime dunks, but the Scarlet Knights adjusted and slowed him down as well.
Even as Rutgers' lead grew, the mistakes of a young team tried to give this game away. Miller missed a free throw with about four minutes left that would have put Rutgers up ten. Randall dove for a loose ball, and then stood up with it getting called for a travel. The team continually fouled UConn in the final minute, allowing them points with the clock stopped.
But the toughness of the Scarlet Knights also was in attendance. They bore down and grinded out the win. The roller coaster season continues. Rutgers visits Pittsburgh Wednesday night. They'll need another great all-around performance to win that one.