Rutgers lost 79-57 to Wisconsin on the road, marking their 17th consecutive loss in conference play. The game was tied at 12-12 when Greg Lewis, right after scoring a three-point play, committed a flagrant foul. Wisconsin responded by going on a 13-2 run and maintained that lead the rest of the half. After trailing 42-31 at the half, Rutgers opened with a 8-1 run to cut the lead within 4 points. They were down 10 points with 10 minutes to play and then completely fell apart from there on. They never got closer than that the rest of the way, with Wisconsin building the lead up 20+ points.
The most surprising part of the game was Corey Sanders starting both halves from the bench. He sat roughly the first seven minutes of each half, and the TV analysts seemed to indicate Eddie Jordan preferred starting the senior on the road with Bishop Daniels. It's possible Eddie wanted to sit Corey at the start of his first conference road game to watch and get acquainted. I think it's an odd move, especially with sitting him the first part of the second half. No word from Eddie Jordan as to why he sat, we will have to wait for his postgame press conference.
There is no doubt the move threw Sanders off rhythm, as he played out of sync the entire game. He scored just 2 points on 1-8 from the field, but did have 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Sanders seemed to force things, trying to make up for lost time, taking several bad shots throughout the game. Rutgers had too many occasions of taking shots early in a possession with no more than one pass, leading to poor shots. They finished 39.7% from the field and were 5-14 from long range.
Wisconsin guard Zak Showalter killed Rutgers today, scoring a career high 21 points on 8-8 shooting, including 4-4 from three-point range. Forward Ethan Happ took advantage of the defensive mismatch with Omari Grier covering him, scoring 16 points on 7-8 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Badgers two star players, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, were held to just 22 points combined, but it didn't matter. Wisconsin shot 53.4% from the field, including 8-18 from three-point range.
The biggest difference in the game was with rebounding as Rutgers got blown away on the glass. Wisconsin won the rebounding margin by +12 and the defense continued to allow offensive boards to their opponent. Rutgers looked flat footed at times and slow to the ball.
On offense, Mike Williams came back after his scoreless game against Indiana with 20 points on 7-12 shooting, including 2-3 from deep. Bishop Daniels scored 11 points on 5-11 shooting and was aggressive on offense. Omari Grier continued his recent strong play with a solid first half, scoring 9 points. He failed to score in the second half, ending a stretch that Grier scored 51 points in his previous five halves of play. Rutgers had three scores on out of bounds plays and were effective the few times they ran the fast break. Rutgers was a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, but did not have nearly enough attempts to stay in the game. It was the same story in the game, poor shooting as a team and too many lapses on both sides of the ball.
Rutgers falls to 6-9 and 0-2 on B1G play. Their next game is at #4 Maryland on Wednesday night. Today showed Rutgers has some major problems and will struggle to compete in conference play. After playing tough against Indiana, they were thoroughly beaten in all areas on the floor today. Wisconsin is having a down year and not a deep team, but had little trouble dismantling Rutgers. It's disappointing to watch, but not surprising with the lack of depth and frontcourt presence necessary to compete in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, nothing personnel wise is going to change in the near future, as there is no timetable for the returns of Freeman, Diallo and Doorson. Rutgers needs to focus on what they can control by playing tough, smart basketball. Until they do, Rutgers will be searching for their first conference win.