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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Ohio State

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Tough day for the Scarlet Knights as they fall to Ohio State 76-62, ending their 3 game winning streak. In the first half, Rutgers could not stop Kaleb Wesson—the big man—down low. He had 21 points in the first half and finished with 27. Eugene Omoruyi balanced out the Knights on the other end with a beautiful stat line of 19 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Caleb McConnell also had a good game with 14 points, including 3 of 6 from three and 4 steals.

It wasn’t enough, however, as the rest of the team couldn’t really get going, particularly in the second half. Four Thoughts:

Kaleb Wesson Is a Beast: In the game at the RAC, Rutgers neutralized Wesson by getting him in early foul trouble. That didn’t happen today, and Wesson just dominated. Not only did he hit every available lay-up (he was 7 for 8 from the field in the first half)—he was also 3-4 from three. Rutgers big men, as good as they are, can’t defend someone like that. If you have to close out on Wesson from deep and defend him down low, that’s just a bad match-up.

It Felt Like Rutgers Was Sloppy today: I had to watch the second half on my phone, so my vibe might be off kilter, but it felt like something was missing. Geo Baker never really got it going in the game because Luther Muhammad defends him so well. They turned the ball over 12 times, and Baker and Omoruyi had 3 each. Even when Rutgers seemed like they might make a valiant comeback, cutting it to 8 on a Omoruyi dunk—it was called back because Eugene tapped the backboard and got called for a technical.

On the Road You Have to Make Your Free Throws: Now this is some of our favorite commenter’s bugaboo. The Scarlet Knights have been better from the line in conference play, but another sign their focus wasn’t all there—they only shot 41.7 percent from the line. If you’re going to win in conference on the road you need to shoot 75% or better most nights. Had Rutgers made 6 more free throws, the score would have them losing by 8, but you never know how confidence starts to build.

Ohio State Made Threes: This was the other bad spot for the afternoon. Rutgers just couldn’t defend the three pointer. The Buckeyes shot 13-28 from deep, and Rutgers offense was never going to catch up to that. This is still a young team that will go through growing pains, so you have to live with nights like this, but hopefully it’s a lesson going forward. In a conference like the Big Ten, you have to bring your A game every night.

So now, the Scarlet Knights return home to face one of the best teams and best coaches in the country. The (currently) #5 Michigan will head to the RAC after losing by double digits to Iowa last night. Rutgers is going to have to be ready and hope for a big night—they’ll have to play a perfect game.

But that’s life in the Big Ten.