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Rutgers Basketball: Rutgers Handles Clemson, 69-64

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Eddie Jordan follows up the worst loss of his tenure with his best weekend.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers stared down the gauntlet--3 games in 4 days with an undermanned and injured team--and they won two games.  None of those games were at the RAC.  None of those games were against cupcakes.

Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack saddled with a ton of minutes and some foul trouble refused to let the Scarlet Knights lose.  With Rutgers trailing by 7 in the second half, Kadeem Jack took the ball at the three point line, drove to the hoop and jammed the ball--a rim shaking dunk--and the momentum shifted back to the Scarlet Knights.  Jack also sank 2 three pointers during a big time run.

Meanwhile, Rutgers really turned up the pressure on the defensive end, led by the unsung hero of the weekend Greg Lewis.  Lewis is turning in to a very good all around player for the Scarlet Knights and Lewis did what was asked.  He shut down the paint, grabbed rebounds, showed a wonderful ability to pass, knocked down a few 15 foot jumpers and--at the end of the game--made free throws to ice it.

The game was back and forth the entire night, but it looked like Clemson was going to wrestle the game away from the Scarlet Knights and pull away.  Rutgers looked gassed and was on fumes, but they dug even deeper than they did in the Vanderbilt game--and every healthy body played a part.

*pauses*

Look at that, I'm 5 paragraphs into this recap and haven't even mentioned Rutgers' leading scorer Junior Etou.  Etou led the team with 20 points and also pulled in 5 rebounds.  Every time Rutgers looked to be falling out of the game, Etou hit a big shot.  He dragged Rutgers through the dark parts of the game, getting baskets at key moments.

Rutgers had 16 assists vs 3 turnovers.  Mike Williams played the point at times--and even Jake Dadika, a walk-on, played key minutes--as Jordan desperately tried to find Mack some rest.

It looked like it might be a Rutgers kind of night from the start--they opened the game shooting 3 of 4 from 3.  And, though some of the bugaboos that have bit this team reappeared throughout the game, it turned out to be.

Now Rutgers has a much needed 4 days off before the Garden State Classic.  They face their nemesis, the 5-0 Seton Hall Pirates.

It's a challenge, but after this weekend, maybe--just maybe--the Scarlet Knights are up for it.