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Rutgers Basketball: Rutgers Hangs On Over New Hampshire 60-56

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Myles Mack scores 20 in a worrisome game.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The final score will not show how poorly Rutgers played defense.  It also will not show how Rutgers started 1-16 in the second half, or if Khalil Battie-a walk-on-didn't bank in a 3 point shot, the game could have been much worse.

It will not show how the team repeatedly went away from what works in its offense, by rushing shots and refusing to go strong to the basket.

What the final score will show is Rutgers won.

This was not a game to send to the Hall of Fame.  Rutgers came out of the gate on fire, at one point late in the second half shooting over 75% from the field.  However, missed lay-ups and turnovers meant Rutgers could only push the lead to 6 going into the break.

And then the wheels started to fall off.  Rutgers went away from what worked in their offense--what got them grind 'em out wins against Vanderbilt and Clemson--and instead fell back into a jump shooting team.  Rutgers could not hit the broad side of the barn, despite pushing the lead to 8 on free throws.

Meanwhile, it was the New Hampshire Wildcats who became patient on offense.  They took advantage of Rutgers' poor offense, and porous defense to drive to the hoop for lay-ups and/or dish for open threes. They were able to take the lead and push it as high as four points.  If not for the Wildcats equally inept offense rearing its head, they would have won this game by ten.

Meanwhile, Eddie Jordan went to the bench looking for a spark, and found Khalil Batie, a walk-on who's found some playing time in Bishop Daniels offense.  Batie was able to hit two three point shots, the second one a bank shot late in the second half that seemed to wake-up Rutgers.

Rutgers never fully got uncorked on offense, and still had to struggle to the victory.  Mike Williams is starting to become the king of hustle plays, will some very solid defense late.  Myles Mack led the team with 20 points, and Kadeem Jack had 10 rebounds.  Jack still struggled with his shot, going 3-9 from the field.  Junior Etou scored 7, but air balled a 3 point shot late in the game, instead of driving to the hoop.

In the last two games, the crispness of the Rutgers offense is gone.  There are fewer cuts, too much one on one, and too much jump shooting.  Rutgers is 5-4, and needs to find a way to 9-4 heading into the Big Ten slate.  They need to get back to smart basketball play, because this team is too talented to be losing to St. Peter's and struggling with New Hampshire.

There is talent on this team, even though it is undermanned.  That talent, however, needs to be smart--from the coaches on down.  Key point, late in the game, when it was clear New Hampshire was going to foul, and Rutgers was going to need to make its free throws, Jordan had Mack inbound the ball to Kadeem Jack.  Mack, the team's best free throw shooter, never got a chance to be fouled, while Jack--not the team's best shooter--had to go to the line.

This is a flawed team, and one that tends to want to double down on its flaws with mental mistakes.

However, this team has also showed it's better than games like this.  The Scarlet Knights need to find a way to consistently become the team from last weekend, as they ground through the gauntlet.

Not the team that wants to shoot outside jumpers.

There's still time, and improvement can come.  Hopefully, it was show up sooner than later.