It has been a season of firsts for No. 11 Rutgers early on. They have achieved their highest ranking since the 1975-1976 season while winning their first two Big Ten contests for the first time in their history.
With 15:38 left in the second half, it looked like the Scarlet Knights were going to check off another one. Ron Harper Jr. hit a three-pointer to give Rutgers a 48-32 lead on the road against Ohio State, a place they have never won.
After leading for nearly 31 minutes of the game, the Scarlet Knights suffered a bit of a collapse in the second half. Rutgers falls to 0-6 all-time at Value City Arena after an 80-68 loss. They are now 6-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Big Ten.
Rutgers was held to just one field goal over the final 10 minutes of the game. They finished just 1-11 while getting outscored 52-30 in the second half. The Scarlet Knights were led once again by Harper Jr., who finished with 20 points on 8-18 shooting and four makes from beyond the arc.
Cliff Omoruyi was forced to miss this game because of a knee sprain. Foul trouble plagued the Scarlet Knights. Myles Johnson got the start against the Buckeyes and picked up his fifth foul with 8:44 left in the game. This was the turning point of the game. Mamadou Doucoure played extended minutes tonight with four fouls.
Rutgers was able to take control of the game early and ride momentum to a 38-28 halftime lead. The Scarlet Knights were able to keep their head above water early in the second half until Johnson was forced to exit. The final knockout blow for the Scarlet Knights came when Jacob Young exited the game following a hard fall. He was unable to return.
E.J Liddell led the way for the Buckeyes, who outscored Rutgers 25-7 over the final seven minutes and 42-15 over the final 13 minutes. Liddell finished with 22 points on 8-14 from the field.
Injuries and foul trouble were too much to overcome in this one. Rutgers was outscored 22-10 at the free throw line and really struggled to get anything going offensively once Young left the game.
If there was ever a time for a holiday, it would be now for Rutgers. They will have six days to attempt to get healthy before hosting Purdue on Tuesday.