It was an embarrassing loss for the Rutgers men’s basketball team on Tuesday night, as Purdue dominated the second half en route to a 89-54 victory. Turnovers were a major issue, as was the perimeter defense of the Scarlet Knights. The Boilermakers burned them on both ends and Rutgers looked completely lost in the second half. It was tough to watch and extremely disappointing to see this team get steamrolled on the road the way they did, despite Purdue being a top half of the Big Ten team.
First Half Summary
Rutgers was in a major hole early as Purdue jumped out to a 16-5 lead behind All-American candidate Carsen Edwards making three shots from behind the arc out of the gate. Fortunately, Rutgers responded with a 9-0 run to get back into the game. The biggest shot of the run was Issa Thiam knocking down a three-pointer, his first in seven games to break an 0-13 drought from behind the arc.
Purdue answered with a mini 5-0 run before Montez Mathis knocked down a three-pointer of his own. It ignited his confidence and he played extremely well the rest of the opening frame, finishing with 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including making both three-point attempts, and making 3 of 4 from the free throw line.
With just over nine minutes left in the half, Geo Baker hit from behind the arc to make it a 23-22 game. Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic, who hadn’t scored in the previous two games, capped a three-minute period where he tied his career high with 8 points, making a three to extend the lead to four. It started an 8-1 run that caused head coach Steve Pikiell to call a timeout with Rutgers trailing 31-23 and just over six minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The Scarlet Knights responded well as Geo Baker made a beautiful no look pass in transition to find Shaq Carter for the easy two. The lead should have been cut to four on the next possession, but Peter Kiss’s layup attempt didn’t count despite replays on BTN that goaltending should have been called on Edwards. Mathis did hit a jumper on the next possession, but Purdue then ended the half on a 9-0 run to gain its largest lead of the game at 13 points. Mathis hit a deep three-pointer to put the score 40-30 at halftime.
Rutgers shot 50% from the field, including 5 of 10 from three-point range. However, they were losing the battle of points in the paint 16-8 and the biggest issue was turnovers. Rutgers committed 10 in the first half and Purdue capitalized by holding a commanding 15-2 edge in points off of turnovers, which was the difference in the game at this juncture.
Second Half Summary
Out of the break, Purdue’s Grady Eifert was called for a flagrant-1 foul on a hook and hold, but Shaq Doorson missed both free throws. However, Doorson grabbed a big offensive rebound after Rutgers kept the ball after the free throws and found Ron Harper Jr. driving. He was fouled on the play and made both from the line. Unfortunately, Ryan Cline was wide open and knocked down a three-pointer to extend the lead back to double digits. Doorson then turned it over and Purdue took advantage.
Carsen Edwards hit his fourth three ball of the game, followed by Cline making his third and just like that, Rutgers trailed 49-32 with 17:45 to play. While Geo Baker responded with a three-pointer of his own, Purdue made their fourth shot behind the arc in a row to start the second half. This time it was the 7’3” Matt Haarms, as the Boilermakers were literally smoking on the court as they were on fire. Rutgers trailed 54-35 with just under 16 minutes remaining. I’ll spare you the gory details the rest of the way. The lead grew as large as 40 points before Purdue won by the final score of 89-54.
The Game Changed When
With Rutgers trailing 31-27 with 3:37 left in the first half, Purdue pushed the lead to 13 points behind a 9-0 run. What was a close game most of the opening frame, the Boilermakers went into halftime with a comfortable 10 point lead despite Rutgers shooting better from the field and behind the arc. It was the kind of run good teams make before halftime.
It Was Over When
Purdue led by 8 points early in the second half and then exploded for a 14-3 run in which they made 4 of 4 shots from behind the arc. A 19 point lead was simply too much for a short handed Rutgers to come back on the road against the high scoring Boilermakers. They completely fell apart from there and got routed by a red hot Purdue team.
Rutgers committed 19 turnovers which resulted in a -11 turnover margin. Purdue took advantage by holding a 24-6 edge in points off of turnovers.
Purdue got way too many open looks from behind the arc and made 14 of 28 from three-point range on the night. After Rutgers made 5 of 10 from deep in the first half, they were just 2 of 10 in the second half.
The Scarlet Knights were dominated inside, where Purdue held a 39-16 scoring advantage. They also only shot 26.9% from the field in the second half.
Carsen Edwards is a legitimate Big Ten and National Player of the Year candidate. While he took some bad shots in this game, he showed why he is such an explosive offensive player. He scored a team high 19 points behind 5 of 10 shots made from three-point range. Freshman big man Trevion Williams looked sensational, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Montez Mathis was the only positive for Rutgers in this game, as you can see his confidence growing by the minute. He led the team with 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Shaq Carter added 10 points and 7 rebounds.
What We Learned
Rutgers lost to Minnesota and Purdue on this road trip by a combined 53 points. Not having leading scorer and rebounder Eugene Omoruyi was certainly a factor. However, the lack of a true point guard and a lack of on court leadership reared its ugly head in the past two games. Rutgers fell apart early in the second half of this game and were undisciplined with the basketball the entire night. It led to an embarrassing result and they shouldn’t be losing this way in Pikiell’s third season. It’s just one game but within the context of Rutgers now being 1-38 in Big Ten play since joining the conference. This is an inexperienced team and only had nine scholarship players for this game, but they need to put forth a better effort and performance than they did tonight if they ever want to finish better than last place in the Big Ten. I still believe Rutgers is headed in the right direction long term under Steve Pikiell, but this game certainly will make some fans question that belief, as it was the worst margin of defeat since he has been head coach.
Rutgers heads home to face Northwestern at the RAC on Friday night. Both teams are 1-5 in Big Ten play and it’s a major opportunity to bounce back from this rough road trip with an important win in league play. Rutgers is clearly in the bottom four in the conference, but they have a legitimate chance to finish as high as 11th place if they can win games against the Wildcats and Penn State, who they play twice each. Throw away the film from this one and the coaching staff needs to find a way to get this team ready to come out swinging from the opening tip on Friday night.
For Dave White’s four thoughts, click here.
We’ll be wearing these warm-up shirts tonight to honor a tremendous young man gone far too soon.— Rutgers Basketball (@RutgersMBB) January 15, 2019
Tyler Trent was and continues to be an inspiration for millions to face the world head-on, no matter what hand you’re dealt. #TylerStrong pic.twitter.com/qt20kZIXlv