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Illinois 66 Rutgers 54

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The Scarlet Knights try to battle back, but their depth issue bely them.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Just hours after Ryan Dunleavy revealed that Rutgers spent less on recruiting than football and women's hoops, the Scarlet Knights' depth issue took hold again.

The Scarlet Knights got off to scintillating start with Myles Mack scoring 12 first half points, and the game going back and forth for the first 15 minutes of the game.  However, with just over four minutes left in the half, the team went cold--as it often does.  Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini couldn't miss with Malcom Hill and Kendrick Nunn hot from beyond the arc.  It got ugly really quickly.

Early in the game, Junior Etou took a shot to the shoulder and looked like he was going to be out for a while.  But Etou came back and played hard, continuing his hustle from the indiana game.  Rutgers did not stop hustling in this game, and tried to cut into a seventeen point Illinois lead, but never really could chip away.

They did cut that 17 point lead to 8 and possession with about two minutes to play, but just couldn't get over the hump and truly put pressure on Illinois.

And that's why it's so tough to be critical of Eddie Jordan and this team.  They've show signs of life with the Vanderbilt, Clemson and Wisconsin wins.  And since the conference schedule has started there've been few games where you can say they didn't hustle.  But when the program is so debilitated from scandal and years of neglect, there's not much else you can expect.  This team is thin to begin with and injuries have taken their toll.

So what do you want to see from the Scarlet Knights going forward?  Ideally, if Mike Williams comes back strong, Rutgers needs to find two more wins.  They won't be favorited in many (any?) of their games going forward, but they need to continue to show some form of progress.

Because nights like tonight show what neglect can lead to.  Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack can only take you so far. Lack of depth, lack of talent, and ultimately lack of wins.