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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Purdue

Rutgers takes it on the chin, 82-51, and has to look forward to Friday Night.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

My thoughts are below, but here’s a link to Aaron’s recap too.

They weren’t out-hustled, they were out talented: Purdue has the kind of squad that can go to the Final Four and they were on tonight. They have two very good big men, who are both over 7 feet tall and mobile. They draw fouls, the can score and they can defend. Plus everyone of their guards makes threes. Rutgers came out playing hard, but Purdue was making all their shots. Rutgers isn’t offensively talented enough to keep up.

They almost got back in it but youthful emotions took over.: With about 14 minutes left, Rutgers cut the lead deficit to 14 on a Geo Baker 3 and got the ball back. However, Baker missed a three and the end of the Minnesota game played itself out again. Just after missing the three, Haas got the ball and Mamadou Doucoure fouled him for his fifth foul. Doucoure was not happy about it. He got a technical and Purdue was able to settle the game down after that. Pikiell was not happy about Doucoure’s technical and got in his face as he was walking to the bench. A learning moment for the young player.

Flashes of Light for the Kids too: Geo Baker handled himself well in the game. Not only did he hit a key three, but also split the defense and got the rim for a dunk. Doucoure had the gamechanging foul, but he also paced Rutgers early, hitting his signature jumpers and making 5 of Rutgers first seven points. In a game where Purdue threw a ton of pressure at Corey Sanders, Rutgers needed to find other ways to score. For most of the night, they couldn’t, but when they did, it was often the kids who got shots to go down. Baker led the Scarlet Knights with 11 points.

Friday Looms Large: Rutgers sits at 0-3 in the Big Ten and 10-6 overall. They are on a stunning 3 game losing streaming (instead of a predicted one game streak—which isn’t even a streak really). Wisconsin hasn’t been good this year, but have been playing really well lately. They won the other night, but they aren’t the prototypical Badgers of old. This Rutgers team, if it brings the effort it brought against Seton Hall, Michigan State and Florida State, can win this game. But everything needs to go right. Rutgers needs to come to play. Corey Sanders needs to take over. And the RAC needs to be the RAC. The last sentence is trickiest. It’s still winter break and a Friday night. I don’t know if we can count on the students. But there’s always hope going forward.

Notable Steve Pikiell quotes from the radio broadcast commentators Jerry Recco and Joe Boylan. Thanks, WCTC:

On trying to come back: “We couldn’t keep climbing up that mountain here on the road. We played hard... you gotta make shots and we didn’t.”

On the technical: “It took the momentum and shifted it . . . Again that’s a good team. They have a lot of seniors . . . When we play these teams there’s no margin for error.”

What’s Next: “We got one day now to prepare... We have to move on quickly because Wisconsin is coming to town.”