Rutgers dropped a hard fought game 78-73, but woke up a sleeping building.
The Game Was Lost in One Quick Stretch: The moment Deshawn Freeman went down with a cramp, this game was lost. It looked like the moment clearly shook up the entire team. CJ Walker hit 2 threes in a row to tie the game and then go up 3. Corey Sanders made a distracted pass to turn the ball over. Walker then took a 3 that Souf Mensah defended well, but Walker flopped an got to shoot 3 free throws. He made them and FSU went up 6. Rutgers never truly bounced back.
At the same time, the Scarlet Knights never gave up: Riddled with foul trouble, their best forward hobbled, and Florida State up 8, Rutgers tried valiantly to battle back. Several times, they cut the lead to just three and couldn’t get over the hump. There was a moment early in the second half where the game got chippy and it appeared Rutgers had gotten under the Seminoles skin. At that moment, I truly thought the Scarlet Knights were going to pull the game out. However, FSU regained their composure before Rutgers could.
The refs were...inconsistent: While the refs didn’t cost Rutgers the game, they were maddeningly inconsistent. Too often the refs called a foul when there wasn’t one (one on Corey that they reviewed and then reassigned to Candido Sa, because, hey, someone had to get fouled. And the aforementioned Souf “foul”). They missed a shot hitting the rim and nearly caused a turnover for Rutgers before catching it. In the first half, they went whistle happy on hand checks, but stopped calling them late. It was a bumpy game and the refs didn’t help.
The RAC rocked: For the first time since the Mike Rice era, the RAC rocked. The students showed up, they were engaged and the place was loud in a way it hasn’t been since Mike Rice upset Florida. They worked hard to get under players skin, to disrupt free throws, and to keep Florida State from getting on a roll. This kind of atmosphere is just a preview. Hey students, you were awesome tonight. Hey Riot Squad, well done. Please, students, do not give up on this team. They are going to knock some teams off and if the place rocks like it did tonight for the rest of the year? They might knock off more than we expect. It’s only going to get better this year. Enjoy the build.
To read about the breakout game from Eugene Omoruyi, click here.