It wasn’t a thing of beauty or easy, but a win is a win and that’s what the Rutgers men’s basketball team got on Black Friday at the RAC, moving to 4-1 on the young season. It was the second straight impressive defensive performance, holding Boston University to 33% shooting from the field, including just 3 of 23 from three-point range. Rutgers struggled from the floor as well in the second half and made just 32% of its shots overall, as well as just 5 of 22 from behind the arc, including 0 for 10 after halftime. However, they held a +12 rebounding margin advantage and a 15-5 edge in points off of turnovers, helping to ensure a 54-44 victory.
Rutgers was led by its three captains, Eugene Omoruyi, Geo Baker and Shaq Doorson, who combined for 45 points, one more than the entire BU team. Omoruyi led with 20 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the floor and 7 of 11 from the free throw line. He was a monster on the glass as well, pulling down 17 rebounds for a impressive double-double stat line. Omoruyi survived foul trouble, finishing the game with 4.
Baker helped Rutgers with a big first half, scoring 15 points in the opening frame and finished with 19 in the game. He was 6 of 12 from the floor as well and 3 of 8 from three-point range. Baker added 2 assists and 2 rebounds, but had 4 turnovers. Doorson continued his steady play with 6 points on 3 of 4 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds.
The only other Rutgers player to score more than one field goal was Issa Thiam, who made just 2 of 9 from the floor, finishing with 6 points. It was a rough day for Peter Kiss, Myles Johnson and Ron Harper Jr. as all three players went 0-5 from the field. Kiss struggled with foul trouble as well, finishing with 4, and Johnson did help on the boards, grabbing 5 in the game. Montez Mathis was just 1 of 4 from the floor for 2 points.
BU cut the lead to just 1 point with about eight minutes remaining in the game, but Rutgers was able to pull out the victory.
Despite a poor shooting game overall, specially in the second half (6 for 30 for 20%), Rutgers was gritty enough to win the game. They did struggle once again taking care of the basketball, committing 16 turnovers. There is no natural point guard on this team and it reared its ugly head in this game. However, BU didn’t capitalize much on the mistakes, scoring just 5 points off of turnovers, a testament to the Rutgers defense. The Scarlet Knights have had a few games where assist totals were in the high teens, but they dished out just 5 on only 18 made field goals in the contest.
Next up, Rutgers enters the most challenging three game stretch of the season, based on current KenPom rankings. They’ll take on Miami (21st) on the road Wednesday, November 28th, followed by the Big Ten opener at the RAC against Michigan State (10th) on Friday, November 30th. Three days later, they’ll take on Wisconsin (12th) in Madison on Monday, December 3rd. It will be a massive challenge for one of the most inexperienced teams in college basketball, but it will serve them well as they look to develop as the season progresses. Rutgers will need to play much better offensively to win any of the three contests, particularly from the bench, but after two straight strong defensive performances, this team is starting to look like a Steve Pikiell coached team. In the next three games, we’ll find out how equipped they are for elite competition at this point in the season.
For Dave White’s four thoughts, click here.