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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Nebraska

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers walks into Nebraska without its best player and floor leader and dominates the game 79-62. Four thoughts.

The Backcourt: Before the game, I was distraught. So distraught that I had to look up how to spell distraught. (C’mon, how often do you use distraught?). Geo Baker had a injured left thumb and is out indefinitely. So, who was going to handle the talented Nebraska backcourt? Well, Caleb McConnell and Jacob Young were up to the task. McConnell stepped into the starting role for Baker and went 8-8 from the floor and scored 20 points. Young played an extremely smart floor game and scored 16 points. They also shut down that talented Nebraska backcourt.

The Monster: Myles Johnson. What else can we say about Myles Johnson? He is growing into one of the best big men in the country. He was a double-double machine tonight with 18 points and 14 rebounds. I don’t remember a player who could rebound like Johnson can since Adrian Hill. Nebraska isn’t big and didn’t have many answer for Myles, but good players use that to their advantage and aren’t timid. Johnson was amazing tonight. Anytime the Huskers made a run, Johnson got the ball and made a play. There was a stretch where Johnson—by himself inside—got four rebounds and a tip in. During that play, the bench for Rutgers just exploded with joy.

The Defense: This was a Steve Pikiell squad at its best. The defense was stifling. The Scarlet Knights were able to get to their spots instinctively. There wasn’t any hesitation. There wasn’t any miscommunication. Rutgers stopped Nebraska at will. It was a complete shutdown. Yes, the Huskers scored 62 points, probably more than Pikiell would have liked, but they shot 25.8% from 3 and 31.7% overall. That is good defense. And you add in that most of the Nebraska possessions were one and done? Wow.

Maybe Rutgers is Good: Nebraska isn’t good, despite their talent. But, that doesn’t mean winning on the road is easy. This Husker squad took Indiana to overtime and beat Purdue earlier this season. They are capable of knocking off Big Ten teams. Rutgers was, again, without Geo Baker... but it did not matter. This was the kind of game where you never have to worry. And when has Rutgers ever done that on the road. There’s something happening here. If you don’t have tickets for Tuesday night, get them now. Because the RAC is going to be a madhouse when a ranked Penn State squad comes to town. Having Geo Baker back would be nice, but it’s not going to happen. However, if Rutgers is able to play this way on Tuesday, it’s going to be interesting. Maybe this team is good. Maybe we are in for a wild ride. Enjoy it.