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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts As Rutgers Loses to St. Bonaventure 80-74

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NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Nebraska vs Rutgers David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers traveled to Canada to honor senior captain Eugene Omoroyi... except on the day the game was announced Omoruyi transferred out of the program shocking everyone. Rutgers still made the trip, but it did not go well.

Saint Bonaventure beat the Scarlet Knights 80-74 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score as the Bonnies shot the lights out in the first half and Rutgers could never truly get back in it. The Scarlet Knights cut the deficit to 4 in the second half after being down nine, but this was a familiar scene for long time Rutgers fans.

Justin Wilson, a West Orange native, torched Rutgers for 19 points along with Kyle Lofton who’s from Hillside... more New Jersey players coming back to haunt the Scarlet Knights. In my last four thoughts against Drexel, I mentioned there were warning signs. Those signs showed up in neon lights tonight.

Rutgers was led by Caleb McConnell, who had 13 points and Myles Johnson who had 12.

Four Thoughts:

Blitzed: That’s the only way to explain this. The Bonies blitzed Rutgers, taking advantage of every concern Steve Pikiell voiced in the pre-season. The Bonnies shot 55% overall and 59% from three. Throughout the game, they had 31 rebounds to Rutgers 39, but it seemed like Mark Schmidt’s team got key boards when they neede them.

Free Throws: AAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHH. Do I need to say anything beyond AAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHH? Rutgers went 19-30. Had they gone 25-30 the game is in overtime. Good teams make their free throws. It’s something the Scarlet Knights need to figure out. Even against Drexel, when they shot 80%, Rutgers missed free throws in the clutch. You can’t win if you strategy is to get to the line... and then you miss them.

A Valiant Second Half: In Steve Pikiell’s second season, he always mentioned how Rutgers defense would “catch up” and allow them to stay in games. That is what happened tonight, but it wasn’t enough. Rutgers defense caught up in the second half and really got the everyone back in the game. Geo Baker hit some key threes off of Rutgers stops, but it wasn’t enough. Rutgers needs to learn from this loss, it’s not enough to just catch up. They have to beat their opponent from the get go.

Frustrating: I’m not going to lie, this loss is extremely frustrating. This was a chance, again, for Rutgers to make an early statement. There aren’t any other marquee names on the schedule until the middle of December. From here until there, Rutgers needs to take care of business and get better. St. Bonaventure is an extremely well-coached team and isn’t a terrible lesson on its own, but it will seem like it for a while. No more slips ups, no more close games. This needs to be a long term wake-up call.. .other wise there is the potential for a very disappointing season. Hopefully that won’t happen. It’s a long year and plenty of time to get back on track... but fans won’t see it for a while. Take care of business from here on out.

Lots to figure out. Let’s see how it goes.