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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Ohio State

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

Rutgers dropped a tough one tonight to the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 72-66.

Four Thoughts.

Rutgers Defense Catches Up: This has been a line of Steve Pikiell’s since his first year on the banks. “Our defense catches up.” It did tonight. It took the Scarlet Knights almost three quarters of the game to figure out Ohio State’s screening. Too many Buckeyes were able to get open for three, and they shot 38.5%, but it was much higher earlier in the game (7-17 in the first half). But the Scarlet Knights locked them down late and were able to have that furious rally. If Rutgers had closed down on those threes and stopped helping on the drives earlier, it would have been a different second half.

This Team is Incredibly Tough: I know, I know. It’s another road loss, and one Rutgers needed badly. But a lot of teams, down 20 on the road, would have just rolled over and let Ohio State pad that lead. But this team, once again, showed some guts and did everything they could to get back in it. They played hard all night, and in the last ten minutes of the game played really smart. The ball finally started to go in and Rutgers was able to get as close as only down 3. At some point, you have to think this is going to pay off on the road. The team can’t get discouraged. There are still 6 games left and three road games.

Paul Mulcahy’s Best Game: The freshman was able to key Rutgers’ offense in this one. He had a beautiful behind-the-head (the head!!) pass to Myles Johnson for a dunk. He scored twelve points, including 2 of 2 for three. In fact, he probably should have shot another three pointer in the final seconds to try and tie the game. He was wide open and passed it up. This is a sign of things to come for the young man and his development is still going to be fun.

Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. are back? You better hope so. Geo Baker scored 13 points and hit a huge three late. It wasn’t the vintage Baker we saw on Saturday (that was an all-time performance), but it was the kind of night you need from Geo day in and day out. The same from Ron Harper, Jr. He went 2 of 4 from three and scored 9 points. It wasn’t the 29 points from him that we saw in Iowa, but it was a definite improvement. Rutgers needs both of these guys to get hot down the stretch. Mulcahy and Jacob Young (17 points) were the keys offensively tonight. If the defense had caught up earlier... bah! I’m rambling. Six more chances. Rutgers needs to find 3 wins. They need everyone.