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Rutgers Falls To Creighton 85-75

The Scarlet Knights ran out of gas last night in Vegas.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers came out strong against Creighton last night, leading 43-40 at halftime.  Corey Sanders led the way with 16 points on 5-6 from the field and 3 assists.  Rutgers shot 53% from the field and 57% from three-point range.  As a team, they held Creighton to just 31% from three-point range and were plus 1 in rebounding margin.

Unfortunately, playing their third game in five days, including a cross country flight to Vegas for this game, Rutgers hit a wall in the second half.  Tired legs emerged and Rutgers went cold as Creighton opened the second half on a 14-3 run.  Rutgers hung in after 4 straight points by Deshawn Freeman, cutting the lead to 65-62 with 8:16 to play.  That was as close as they would get, as Creighton responded with back to back three's to start a 13-0 run that put them up 16 points with 4:34 to play. With the game out of reach, Rutgers didn't give up and finished the game on a 13-7 run, losing 85-75.

Sanders finished with a career high 21 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.  After averaging over 33 minutes a game so far this season, Sanders struggled in the second half, shooting just 2-8 from the field. Rutgers got back into the bad habit of forcing shots and Sanders had just 1 assist in the second frame. Regardless, Sanders is improving every game and has lived up to the hype early on.

Bishop Daniels had another productive night coming off the bench as the sixth man.  He scored 17 points in just 16 minutes of action on 7-11 shooting.  Three-pointers are not his strong suit, but he lit it up last night, going 3-3 from downtown. Unfortunately, his strong effort wasn't enough to keep Rutgers in the game.

Deshawn Freeman was the only other Rutgers player to score in double figures, finishing with 14 points on 6-13 shooting and 7 rebounds.  D.J. Foreman had 7 points and 6 rebounds.

Rutgers could not survive an off night from Mike Williams, who struggled from the field, connecting on just 3-10 shots, including 1-5 from three-point range. Williams has filled up the stat sheet in multiple categories this season, but had a quiet night with just 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.

In the second half, Creighton shot 50% from three-point range and the field overall, getting stronger as the game played on. Rutgers got tired and their defense regressed, allowing Creighton to take the game over. As a team, Rutgers shot just 12-35 at 34% in the second half. For the game, they assisted on just 12 field goals and committed 15 turnovers, while also losing the rebounding margin by 3.

Rutgers is now 3-2 and will play Clemson in the consolation game of the Men Who Speak Up Event.  It will be another 9pm tip-off in Vegas, making it a Thanksgiving midnight watch party on the east coast.  This team needs to rest and regroup before Wednesday's game.  It doesn't get any easier, as they now have two ACC opponents in a row, hosting Wake Forest at home next Monday.  Big Ten mate Indiana, who beat Creighton by 21 points last week, lost to Wake Forest last night 82-78. Seton Hall awaits after that.  The games ahead put even more urgency on Wednesday's game against Clemson, Rutgers needing a win to salvage the road trip. The Tigers were upset by UMass and will be looking to rebound from their first loss of the season. Rutgers will look for a win over Clemson two seasons in a row, after defeating them in the Big Ten-ACC challenge last year.

YouTube Stream of the Rutgers-Creighton game