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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Syracuse

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Rutgers Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Ending a 13 game losing streak to the Syracuse Orange, Rutgers stayed out of the loss column with a fun win, 79-69.

Ron Fire: Ron Harper Jr. was scalding hot for most of the game. He scored fifteen in the first half and then finished with 26. He was unconscious from 3 going 5 for 8. This is All Big Ten Ron Harper. The kind of player who can take a good team and make them great. If Geo Baker comes back healthy in time for the Big Ten season, we are in for a world of fun. And his buddy Montez Mathis kept up the pace scoring 19.

The Defense Misses the Crowd: When Syracuse tried to take over the game in the 2nd half, it’s because Rutgers defense went away—something that rarely happens under Steve Pikiell. This game definitely missed the juice that the RAC gives. Imagine a moment when Syracuse was trying to push, but the RAC was rocking? I wonder if that Orange run would have happened. Myles Johnson, however, fueled Rutgers defense down the stretch, basically deciding the Orange wouldn’t have free reign.

The Freshman Need Seasoning: It was jarring to see Oskar Palmquist, Mawot Mag and Cliff Omoruyi getting a run on the floor at the same time in the second half. The freshman didn’t have their best game, including Palmquist missing some open threes that would have extended the lead. However, with Geo and Caleb McConnell hurt, Steve Pikiell is going to have to throw these kids to the fire and get them experience.

Jacob Young controlled the offense: I thought Young was struggling early on, going at 110 miles per hour when he could have slowed it down to 80. But give the senior credit, he figured it out. Young controlled the offense completely, and when Rutgers went into a drought, he really pushed the pace to get things going. He finished with a double double, and turned the tide when things got bad. I mean 18 points and 10 assists? Wow. This team has talent and earned their top 25 ranking. Young is a big part of that.