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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Penn State

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers won their 2nd straight Big Ten game and beat Penn State on the road, 64-60.

Rutgers Wanted This Game: You could tell from the start how badly Rutgers wanted this game. The Scarlet Knights went down early 8-4 and Steve Pikiell called a time out. He brought in Eugene Omoruyi who took 2 quick charges and should have taken a third. Rutgers players were diving for balls, playing great defense and trusted their offense. There were very few forced threes and Rutgers was patient. In fact, at times, they were too patient.

Penn State Played Good Defense: Penn State took away Rutgers interior game, which made this win all the more impressive. They forced Rutgers big men just far enough away form the basket to so they weren’t able to get the post up lay-ups that were so effective against Nebraska. For Rutgers to find a way, either with drives, getting to the free throw line, and some timely threes, is so, so impressive. These games always seem to go against Rutgers, but they held on.

Geo Baker Has Stepped Up: He got through his funk and has figured out a way to play at the point and still get his. Baker scored 20 points and really used his dribble to throw Penn State off their game. He found a way to get to the line, and every three he made was a big one. He wasn’t perfect, Penn State forced him into a few too many turnovers, but he and Eugene were huge down the stretch. And the adjustment Pikiell made after the timeout to get him the ball after McConnell couldn’t inbound? Just beautiful.

Faith With Results: Look, this build is still in its infancy and things can go wrong, but how can you not believe at this moment. Yeah, there have been struggles with this young team, and it is clear how important Omoruyi and Baker are so they can’t get hurt again, but they are doing things Rutgers hasn’t done in years. They have 3 Big Ten wins already. They have beaten a top 25 team. They have two road wins aginast major conference teams. And they come out with confidence. There’s still a long way to go, but the teams Rutgers is beating make it hard not to believe.