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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts On Minnesota

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NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is fun again.

The Scarlet Knights beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 68-64 and have now won 6 conference games for the first time since 2011-2012. Rutgers got the kind of game they needed coming off two tough loss and facing a team desperately in need of a road win to keep their NCAA hopes alive. Eugene Omoruyi was big down low scoring 14 points. Montez Mathis was huge in the open court and scored 18 points. And Geo Baker flat out took the game over in the final minute and finished with 13 points.

And, I got to high five Pat Hobbs as the buzzer sounded—because I was very lucky. I got to sit under the basket tonight thanks to friend and all around great Rutgers guy, Mike Greengarten.

Four Thoughts:

Rutgers Snoozed Through the First Half: It was clear that the Golden Gophers needed this game and were taking it to Rutgers early. Daniel Oturu was big down low and scored 20 points. And Gabe Kalscheur was lights out from the three point line. He hit 5 threes in the first half (and six overall). The Scarlet Knights did just enough to stay within scoring distance—down seven at the half.

The Scarlet Knights Shut Down Jordan Murphy: Murphy was never truly a factor until the final second of the game, when—down three—Murphy got fouled and got three free throws. He missed two of them. But Murphy—who can be a dominant player—only scored 9 points and had 7 rebounds. Rutgers kept rolling different big men at him. Shaquille Doorson walled up. Myles Johnson gave him a different look. And even Omoruyi played him tough at times. That was a key.

The Refs Were Fair: I’ve been moaning about the refs the past couple of games and for good reason. But tonight, the boys in stripes let them play and never felt like they were trying to wrestle the game away from Rutgers. Sitting up close, you really see a different game, and the refs let a lot go. At one point, a Minnesota player claimed he got fouled and the ref said, “I see you, baby, but you gotta play through that.” It was a lot of fun to see.

Geo Baker Stepped Up: As soon as I post this article, I am going to watch the highlights because Baker was so good down the stretch. He hit a huge three to tie the game at 61. He got to the line. He distributed the ball. And he played really good defense on Kalscheur in the 2nd half when they had to put Mathis on Amir Coffey.

An all around great game for Rutgers and keeps the arrow pointed up. It’s really impressive how the Iowa game barely affected their psyched. That bodes so well for the future.