Okay, that was a blur. The final one minute and forty-seven seconds are an absolute, but amazing blur. Rutgers defeats #16 Ohio State 64-61. Here are my four thoughts.
Geo Baker Brought It: Baker’s been struggling lately, but he brought it tonight. He was only 5-11 from the field, but 2-4 from three for 15. And though he was almost held scoreless in the second half, he hit a big two point jumper with ten seconds left to put Rutgers up three. It was a big time shot by a kid who’s growing into a big time player. It was all guts right when Rutgers needed it most. He did not want to lose this game and you could see it from the tipoff.
The kids and Carter: Ron Harper and Montez Mathis were magic. Mathis made two really tough shots in the last two minutes to drag Rutgers back once Ohio State got the lead and finished with an amazing 16 points. And Harper was all over the place. He made some shots, he lead some fast breaks, and he made his free throws. He even dug in on the defensive end. McConnell played key minutes and continued to build his confidence. And Shaq Carter scored 11 pointes while playing a tough 32 minutes.
They Did It Without Eugene: The DNP by Peter Kiss and limited minutes by Issa Thiam would usually be the story, but leading scorer Eugene Omoruyi went down with what appeared to be a bad injury. Didn’t matter. Rutgers’ kids stepped up and did the job. Everyone who played had a key moment whether on offense or defense. Myles Johnson was a force down low. Shaq Doorson played some fantastic D.
Favorable Home Whistle: Finally Rutgers got the home call. While the game was mostly called evenly (including the refs evening it up for Ohio State in the second half), Rutgers really benefitted from the way the referees called this game. Kaleb Wesson was saddled with two fouls early, which freed up the Scarlet Knights’ offense. And Rutgers did a good job from the line, making 15-20 shots from the charity stripe while Ohio State only got their 11 times.
Just a great all around game. Man, Steve Pikiell really makes it easy to root for this team.