This game was about as ugly as it can get. Or I hope that it was, because this was tough to take. It's not surprising that Rutgers was blown out by Maryland, the #3 team in the country. However, the manner in which they were beaten, bloodied and buried so early on was downright depressing. With only seven scholarship players available for tonight's game, Maryland's depth in the frontcourt obliterated Rutgers in every way. The scariest part is that Maryland's best player, Melo Trimble, had a tight hamstring and played just a few minutes in the first half, limiting him to only 4 points.
They were out rebounded 49-27 by Maryland and were blocked six times in the game. When D.J. Foreman and Greg Lewis each picked up three fouls in the first half, Eddie Jordan was forced to play a lineup of five guards no taller than 6'4". Maryland made them pay, driving and scoring at will in the paint. Rutgers struggled all night shooting over the length of the Maryland defenders. A perfect example of the size mismatch was freshman guard Justin Goode being guarded by 7'1" center Michal Cekovsky. He looked rattled and finished 0-5 from the field with zero points.
At the start of the second half, Rutgers stopped settling for long jump shots and spread the court, working to drive to the basket. This led to some success on offense, as they actually outscored the Terps 16-10 in the first six minutes after the break, cutting the lead to 56-34. Then they completely fell apart, as Maryland switched to the 1-3-1 zone and the Rutgers offense derailed. Jake Layman hit back to back three's for Maryland and the slim hope of Rutgers bringing the deficit to a respectable margin was dead. The Terps went on a 21-1 run to lead 77-35 with a little over 8 minutes left in the game. Freshman Diamond Stone had 15 points and 10 rebounds on the night, while Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon also scored 15 points.
Credit the team with playing hard to the end and never quitting. They easily could have quit after being down 46-18 at the break. They played with more purpose before the big run in the second half, and then responded again, closing out the game outscoring Maryland 28-11. Of course, it came against the end of Maryland's bench and the last 5 minutes was a free fall, with the home crowd loving every bit of it.
Corey Sanders was on the bench at the start of both halves for the second consecutive game. He forced things again in the first half once he entered, shooting 1-7 from the floor with no assists. Despite coming off the bench again, he played with more focus and poise in the second frame. He hit three consecutive three-pointers at the end and looked in rhythm for the first time since the Indiana game. He led the team with 16 points on 6-15 shooting, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Aside from Sanders, Omari Grier continued his solid play of late with 13 points. Bishop Daniels played aggressive all night, notching 11 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. D.J. Foreman scored 10 points on 3-3 from the field and 4-4 from the line, but only had 2 rebounds. A rare highlight was walk-on Khalil Batie scoring his first points of the season with a late bucket.
Rutgers (6-10; 0-3) has a couple days to regroup before taking on Nebraska (8-8; 0-3) at home Saturday at 5pm. This may be Rutgers best chance to win a conference game the rest of the season. In order to break their 18 game Big Ten losing streak, the best thing they can do is forget tonight and move on. Hopefully Jonathan Laurent recovers from his head injury in time to play on Saturday. Otherwise, Rutgers will enter their second game in a row with just seven scholarship players. No word on the status of Deshawn Freeman, who was scheduled to be reevaluated today. A tough start to the season will continue to skid off the tracks into a complete wreck, if the lack of healthy options continue much longer. If it does, there will be many more nights like this ahead the rest of this season.