The RAC inhaled, its tired eyes opening as a rumble started to grow from its stomach. Rutgers was up 6 and playing with momentum. The crowd's eyes weren't glued to the football recruits in the stands, but instead the play on the court. Myles Mack was wide open, the senior setting his feet just outside the arc. The ball flew from his hands.
And for the first time in ten years, maybe, just maybe the RAC would wake up and the RAC would roar. There had been moments before this where the RAC had nearly awoken from its decade long slumber, but this moment felt real. It felt like the RAC really wanted to get up.
And if Mack's shot had fallen, it would have. It would have torn the roof off the place.
Instead the shot rimmed out, and Aubrey Dawkins--the Wolverine no one outside of the mitten had heard of got himself open once again and drained a three pointer to cut the Scarlet Knight lead to three.
And Michigan never looked back. In a five minute span, they ripped off an 18-4 run--which included four made three pointers and buried Rutgers.
But that wasn't exactly the story of the game. As is often the case, the best coach in the country*, John Beilein, could not make a mistake. He zoned Rutgers to death, double teamed Myles Mack, and forced the rest of the team to try and make outside shots. Mack could never truly get it going, fighting for his 15 points, and the offense moved in fits and starts. Kadeem Jack couldn't get to the rim, but still scored 13. But no other help came.
*My opinion, but I've held it for a long time. In terms of Xs and Os, no one comes close to Beilein.
Rutgers played nervous and timid for most of the night. They were clearly frustrated by the length and zone of Michigan and every time they tried to make a smart play, they bobbled the ball. They were ice cold from the free throw line as well, making 7 of 14. Another killer.
Michigan wasn't much better, and were still trying to figure things out without Caris LaVert. Spike Albricht steadied them, however and the team did what it could.
They never looked back after Mack missed the shot. Rutgers sits at 10-10 (2-5). They need to find a win and soon. Penn State awaits them in Happy Valley on Saturday.
But the opportunity to bring the noise was missed tonight. The buzz was there, the energy, but the true craziness of the RAC still hid in the rafters.
And so, the RAC shrugged its shoulders, yawned and tucked itself back in for the night. The roar awaits another chance. Maybe the blackout against Tom Izzo and Michigan State can rouse them old building.