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Enjoying The Build: 4 Thoughts on Northwestern

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Northwestern v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Rutgers wins an exciting game in overtime, 67-58. Aaron’s got your recap and Brian’s got some quotes from Corey Sanders and Eugene Omoruyi for you. I’ve got some thoughts.

Corey Sanders was Amazing Yet Again: Sanders’ second half and overtime was incredible. He ended up with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. He played a smart all around game and you could tell that once the shots weren’t falling for anyone else, he was going to take this on his shoulders and man did he. He hit the game tying three with about five seconds left in regulation and in overtime really helped Issa Thiam get going with his shot. Corey has been a bit maddening this year, and as always, there’s talk about whether or not he’ll be back next season. Let’s hope he decides too. With the offensive firepower it looks like will be eligible next year with Shaq Carter, Ron Harper, Jr., Montez Mathis, Myles Johnson and Peter Kiss—plus another year’s improvement on Thiam and Geo Baker, Sanders won’t have to do it all alone. And when a player is confident others will help him? That sets someone up for a monster final year on the banks.

Don’t Let the Stats Fool You: Most of this game felt like typical Rutgers offense for everyone else on the team. At one point in the game, I tweeted I’d be hearing the clank of the iron from those missed shots in my nightmares all off season. But while the pack-line defense causes Rutgers a ton of headaches in games, Northwestern’s match-up zone did not. Rutgers shredded it and was getting good looks nearly every time down the court. They just weren’t going in. Rutgers attacked the zone much like they attacked Iowa’s and it got Corey to the rim and allowed his jumper to fall later. This was a well-coached offensive plan, Rutgers just needs to keep adding and developing talent.

Eugene Omoruyi Sucked Up Minutes: Just one game removed from returning from a dislocated kneecap, Omoruyi played 39 minutes and made the most of them. He wasn’t perfect, fumbling a key fast break out of bounds, but he was good. The ball moved a lot better on the offensive side because it didn’t stick in Deshawn Freeman’s hands. It was a bit concerning to see Freeman get the DNP, but maybe this helps over the next 3 or 4 games as Freeman will see what can open up for him when you move the ball around. Omoruyi is developing into one of Rutgers’ best and smartest players. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start the rest of the way (minus Senior Day) and lock down the starting position next season as well.

What’s Next For Rutgers: This is the big question, isn’t it? You want to see this team get on a roll. While playing a game at Ohio State is tough, the other two games on the schedule aren’t as scary. But Rutgers has not followed up a great game with another great effort the this entire season. If they can do that and some shots fall, Maryland can be a close game, but I’m not ready to count on that until I see it. Getting the Scarlet Knights on a roll late in the season could bode well for Madison Square Garden, which is essentially a home game for Rutgers. But we need to see it to believe it.