The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were not thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, that’s for sure. They ran roughshod over Bryant and won their fifth game in a row, this one 83-54.
Geo, Geo, Geo, Geo, Geo, Geo, Geo: Tonight Geo Baker showed Rutgers fans what they have to look forward to for the next four years. The freshman came to the Banks promoted as a combo guard who could really shoot it. But Baker hadn’t shown much early on this season. Tonight, he stepped up. Geo made 7 of 10 threes, and scored 29 points overall. He was fantastic all night long, and any time he was open, he made Bryant pay. It was one of the most impressive shooting nights Rutgers fans have seen since the days of Myles Mack for sure. Baker is the first freshman to make 7 threes in a game since Geoff Billet in 1996.
Corey Sanders Awakens: Much was made of Pikiell sending a message by having Corey come off the bench the last game. That motivation tactic certainly worked tonight. Sanders was on fire and tried to go basket for basket with Geo Baker. Corey scored 18 points and tallied five assists. He also showed off his rim rattling dunk ability. It was a night for the backcourt to start to come together. If Geo and Corey can play like this all season... watch out.
Steve Pikiell Has a Birthday: I’m sure he got some nice gifts from his family, but starting off another season 5-0 has to be the icing on the cake. It’s clear the team is getting better each game, learning to play together. They’re defending without fouling, which is really impressive. The rebounds are coming and the team is playing hard. The opponents are only going to get tougher from here on out, but this team is doing what it’s supposed to right now. Also, nice touch by the crowd to sing happy birthday during the last media time out, and the team to clap for coach after they were done.
“Enjoy the Build”: I’ve now seen Coach Pikiell speak twice this season. Once at his season preview radio show and once as a member of the Court Club. Both times, he said those words: “Enjoy the build.” Sometimes, as fans, it’s easy to get caught up in who’s not playing and why. Or the missed free throws. Or the missed defensive assignments. But then there are nights like these where the basketball is really fun. It’s tough because we fans are impatient, but watching the young guys grow up in a night or Corey really start to click is a reward for all the suffering. Rutgers may not be lights out every night, but they are going to play hard every night. Sit back, relax and enjoy each step as it comes.