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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Eastern Michigan

Rutgers dominates

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Indiana vs Rutgers Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Scarlet Knights got up off the floor and blew out Eastern Michigan 63-36.

The Defense Was a Work of Art: That first half was incredible and I’ve never seen anything like it. Eastern Michigan was only able to score 4 points the entire half. Rutgers used its length and size to frustrate and stop EMU at every turn. And for all the talk of how inexperience Rutgers is and how experience EMU is, Rutgers looked like the comfortable team. It was clear the Scarlet Knights wanted to get the bad taste of the St. John’s game out of their mouth.

Geo Baker, the three point maker: More and more this is Geo’s team. Not only was he dominate offensively, scoring 20 points and going 7 of 9 shooting, but he also moved the ball brilliantly. He didn’t force his shot and made sure he got everyone involved. At one point in the first half, Issa Thiam got involved in either a scrum or an argument with an EMU player, and Baker made sure to separate Issa from the other player. While the refs had to talk the EMU player, Geo did all the talking to Issa. This is Geo’s team.

Ball Movement: Using the St. John’s blueprint as a guide, EMU tried to frustrate and slow the Scarlet Knights with a 1-2-2 press. They then fell back into a zone. But Rutgers played smart. They broke the press with passing, setting Myles Johnson in the middle and using his size and passing ability to break the press. They then were able to get the ball inside against the zone and move it side to side. Rutgers didn’t take good shots, they passed the ball with a purpose until they found great shots.

Ron Harper Jr. is a Baller: Harper continued to impress again tonight. He was one of the first players off the bench for Pikiell and played a ton of minutes. While he didn’t score much, he managed to do just about everything else right. You can see how much he loves to pass and found himself open for a pretty dunk under the basket. We’re going to get 4 years of this kid and he’s going to develop into a long time Rutgers favorite.