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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Miami

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Rutgers just won a road game. They won a road game against a good team.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

So, uh, guys. Hi. How are you? I’m having a little trouble breathing.

Just give me a second.

Okay. Whew.

On a day where Pat Hobbs sent an email to fans about football that’s been getting mixed reviews from fans, Steve Pikiell took his team down to Miami and got the job done.

Rutgers beats Miami (21 in KenPom) 57-54.

Four Thoughts:

That is a Jay Young Defensive Show: Rutgers put on an absolute clinic after Miami got out to a hot start. They frustrated Chris Lykes in the first half, forcing him into a ton of turnovers. They rebounded nearly every miss. And they made Miami work. The close outs were sharp, they cut off the drives and Shaquille Doorson was a defensive force down low. So many challenged lay-ups.

Questionable Pikiell Substitution: In the second half, Rutgers up 8, Pikiell knew he needed to get Geo Baker and Shaq Doorson a blow. So he made a major substitution, bringing in Caleb McConnell and Mamadou Doucoure. The Miami defense swarmed McConnell which kept Rutgers from getting into a smooth offense, but even worse was the change in height from Doorson to Doucoure. Miami was able to get to the rim much easier and was able to cut into Rutgers lead, making this a dog fight.

Three Newcomers: Peter Kiss was an offensive force. While Geo Baker was the engine that made everything go and Kiss really had his best game. He frustrated Miami’s guards on defense and made several key three point shots. He even leaked out on the fast break for a few easy lay-ups. Ron Harper Jr looked like a Junior (in college years) out there. Again, he was in the right place and time nearly all game. In the first half, he had a dunk and then a fast break lay-up to get Rutgers going. And Montez Mathis played a key role late. With Lykes starting to go off and Baker wearing down on D a bit, Pikiell switched Mathis to cover Lykes and that really slowed Lykes down. These three really had some settling moments for Rutgers as things started to go wobbly.

Friday Night: The RAC is going to be ballistic. It is sold out with #9 Michigan State coming in. The Spartans are wounded, coming off an OT loss to Louisville. Meanwhile, Rutgers is going to be flying high. It’s a weird start time, 6 pm, so one hopes that at least the students are there on time, as it will likely be a late arriving crowd. But if you are going, clear your throats and get ready to make it a tough place to play. Maybe we can get some RAC magic.