Rutgers had built a 22 point lead, and they were rolling. The team had looked the best it had all year. And then Iona woke up and the Scarlet Knights decided to take a nap.
Iona cut the lead to 1 with just under 2 minutes left. And they were coasting down the court on a 3 on 1. Thank Goodness for Wally Judge. Judge, who'd been benched to start the game for violating a team rule, set his feet, jumped and block the lay-up. The ball ended up in Myles Mack's hands.
Mack, who is quickly becoming the most clutch player on the team, took it the other way for a lay-up and a foul. Judge and Mack may have saved the season.
Earlier in the game, Mike Poole kept Rutgers in it. He scored 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting, breaking out of his season long slump. Dane Miller put together his second strong game in a row with 13.
But the story of the season continues to be Myles Mack, Eli Carter and Jerome Seagears. The light has gone on for Mack and it appears he's on his way to superstardom. He's fast, he's smart, and he's clutch.
Meanwhile, Carter is an elite scorer, and if the light goes on for him, he could be all world. He continues to try and do too much, and nearly blew it for Rutgers, driving to the hoop for a lay-up at the end of the game instead of pulling it out and letting the clock run.
As for Seagears, he continues his slow start. He's getting playing time, and handling the ball, but he can't seem to get untracked. He's still a work in progress.
Last night's game was Rutgers' early season in a nutshell. There were moments of greatness as they built a 22 point lead, there were moments where the team needed to be clutch, and then there was a near epic collapse. Mike Rice's challenge going forward still remains the same. There are enough pieces and talent that this team could be very good this year. But they need to play as a team. Each game shows signs of improvement, and they are clearly better than last year, but a ton of work remains.
Rutgers returns to the RAC Tuesday night, facing George Washington.Rut