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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Wisconsin

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron has you covered with the 64-60 win recap, but here are my 4 thoughts.

Eugene Omoruyi and Candido Sa Stepped Up: Omoruyi has been touted as the most improved player on the team this year. He and Sa showed in on the defensive end. Sa and Omoruyi made Ethan Happ work for every point he got, and put him on line when it mattered. Omoruyi had a key rebound and steal in the final minute and iced the game with some free throws. When you aren’t the best scoring team out there, you have to make up for it with the little things. Omoruyi and Sa did that tonight.

Rutgers is a Tough Out at Home: I know, the Stony Brook (more on them later) and Hartford games don’t back this up, but those are beginning to look like blips on the rebuild screen. Rutgers has played the top teams tough and though the Badgers are down this year, they are still a marquee name on the Big Ten schedule. The first step is to become tough at home and Rutgers is just that. The Scarlet Knights seem to play to the level of their competition too, and they stepped up tonight for the win. This makes the rest of the home schedule very interesting. There may be some missteps, but there will likely be some highs as well.

Deshawn Freeman Had a Quiet 15: Defenses are making him work and too often forcing him to fade away from the basket, rather than going to toward it. However, Freeman’s defense is turning into offense, as he’s forced some major turnovers (speaking of... Rutgers only had six!!). And when Freeman gets to the line, he’s starting to make his shots. That’s what he did tonight. He didn’t dominate the game offensively, but he did enough to help Corey Sanders take over.

Rutgers Learned from Stony Brook: In the final seconds of regulation against Steve Pikiell’s old team, Rutgers had a heck of a bad time inbounding the ball and it cost them the game. That issue helped Rutgers out tonight, as Wisconsin pressured the inbounds in the final minute. But the Scarlet Knights were able to get the ball in and then get to the line. Had they night been challenged by the Seawolves, tonight’s inbounds would have been trickier!

BONUS: I can shave! Every year, in January, I start growing a beard until Rutgers gets a conference win. It came early this year!!