Rutgers had a golden opportunity in the first half to build a solid lead and assert control of this game. And they literally threw it away, to the tune of 11 turnovers before halftime, leading to 16 points for Nebraska. Several passes were thrown directly into the hands of Nebraska defenders, it was that sloppy. Despite shooting 48% from the field and holding a 19-18 edge on the boards, Rutgers trailed 37-33 at the half. Ibrahima Diallo missed a layup and Mike Williams grabbed the rebound but missed the tip in at the buzzer, a perfect ending to a frustrating half of basketball.
They came out in the second half looking to get Corey Sanders more involved, as he was held to just 5 points in the first half. Sanders hit a big three to tie the game at 43 with just under 17 minutes to play. And then the wheels fell off, as Rutgers was held scoreless for over 4 minutes of action. Nebraska took advantage, going on a 17-2 run to take a 60-45 lead with under 12 minutes to play. Sanders missed two shots and committed his fourth turnover of the game during that stretch. Nebraska's Benny Parker was causing Sanders fits, giving him little space to operate and cutting off his drives in the lane.
For much of the second half, Rutgers stopped running their offense, with few ball reversals, as they mostly settled for contested jump shots. Throughout the game, Rutgers had multiples occasions of driving to the rim out of control. D.J. Foreman was especially reckless, and as a team they looked to be pressing too much. But their defense was atrocious yet again, as they made Nebraska look like the Showtime era Lakers for the third time this season. There were multiple occasions where Nebraska drove the baseline and just went right by a Rutgers defender, with Bishop Daniels guilty at least twice that I remember. Nebraska, the 11th place team in the Big Ten, averaged 89 points in three games against Rutgers. Abominable!
Andrew White had 16 points for Nebraska, which was his worst scoring performance against Rutgers this season, and fouled out with 5 minutes to play. And it still didn't matter, as the last 10 minutes were played out with the Huskers holding a double digit lead the entire time. Unfortunately, it was an all too familiar end to games for Rutgers fans this season. Nebraska had five players score in double figures, led by senior Shavon Shields, who had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nebraska shot 7-16 for 44% from three-point range and held a +7 rebounding margin.
Rutgers had four players score in double figures for the first time in months, but turnovers and terrible defense gave them no chance. Rutgers finished with 17 turnovers Mike Williams led the team in scoring for a second consecutive game, finishing 14 points on 4-11 shooting from the field. Daniels, in his last game, had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He had his moments scoring over the past two seasons, but his penchant for turnovers and lack of defensive effort were his undoing. Omari Grier, also his last game, scored 12 points off the bench on a 4-5 performance from the field. Surprisingly, Corey Sanders struggled to reach double figures, which he barely did, hitting two late free throws to finish with 10 points. It was his 22nd game out of 27 in double figures, but he missed his last 6 shots from the floor and couldn't give Rutgers the lift they so badly needed tonight. He did have this highlight, because he is Corey Sanders.
That's all she wrote folks. A terribly frustrating game to cap off a catastrophic season in which Rutgers won its fewest games since the 1987-1988 season, finishing with a record of 7-25. In two full seasons in the Big Ten, Eddie Jordan has led Rutgers to a 3-35 record. Rutgers has a chance to be the first major conference team to ever finish with a sub-300 KenPom rating. We will see, but we all know what we watched all season, and it seemed like the worst Rutgers team in decades, and possibly ever. Change is desperately needed, no matter how much Jordan is a beloved loyal son, and it's likely to come in the next few days. For now, take a deep breath and be thankful that this nightmare season is finally over. And to be happy about basketball being over is just sad. Please fix this Pat Hobbs, a proud but wounded fanbase begs you!