While the Rutgers men’s basketball team fell short of shocking #4 Michigan State on the road last night, their performance caught the attention of many college basketball analysts. Here are some tweets that praised the effort that Rutgers delivered last night.
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell told me yesterday that they have to just grind out games. That's what they are doing. Well, he was right. @RutgersMBB seems to be in good hands with Pikiell. OT in East Lansing. @BigTenNetwork— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) January 11, 2018
Michigan State survives.— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 11, 2018
Gutsy stuff from Rutgers.
While Rutgers isn't an elite team, their hustle is impressive. That is coaching and character and they have both.— Hondo Carpenter (@HondoCarpenter) January 11, 2018
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If Steve Pikiell gets players near the level of Fred Hill and Mike Rice, then he will win at Rutgers.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 11, 2018
It wasn’t just the national media that took notice. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was impressed and gave high praise to Steve Pikiell and Rutgers after the game. Here are two notable comments he made in his postgame press conference:
“Give them credit. I heard Steve Pikiell got an extension today, much deserved. His teams play hard, they play tough, they play physical, they play with a chip on their shoulder.”
“That’s the most physical team we’ve played. We’re physical enough to play some teams. We played Duke, (North) Carolina, and Notre Dame. Good teams. Tonight we played a well coached team that is as physical as the day is long. Their guards were, their bigs were. The way they went after the ball late, if I was watching the game and wasn’t coaching it, I would have enjoyed it.”
To watch his full presser, see below:
One statistic to keep in mind is that Michigan State averages 87 points a game, but only scored an average of 60.5 points in two meetings against Rutgers, not counting the overtime session last night. Let that sink in. Regardless of record and results, as last night’s gutsy performance is tougher to take this morning as a loss, this program finally has an identity Rutgers fans can be proud of. They are becoming known as a very tough and physical group that plays terrific defense. Michigan State came into last night’s game leading the country in rebounding and Rutgers held a +4 edge on the boards when the contest ended.
While last night was a disappointing result, it was highly unexpected and was another step forward in changing the perception of Rutgers basketball, both in the Big Ten and the national scene. I’ll leave you with this last stat, which highlights that Michigan State’s closest two wins of the season were both against Rutgers.
Consider this #4 Michigan State's average margin of victory was 28.8 points entering this game & Rutgers lost by a combined 14 points in two defeats this season. Both wins were the closest for the Spartans, who beat UNC, Maryland, UConn & Notre Dame by at least 18 points. #RHoops— Aaron Breitman (@aaron_breitman) January 11, 2018