It was all setup for Rutgers on Friday night.
The Scarlet Knights were set to host No. 9 Wisconsin in need of a statement victory. Rutgers was finally at full strength with Cliff Omoruyi returning to the lineup. They are a strong home team while Wisconsin has struggled at the RAC, just one all-time victory.
In the end, the defense of the Badgers prevailed as Rutgers could not get anything going offensively and dropped their fourth game in a row 60-54.
Wisconsin came into this game allowing just 62.7 points per game — tops in the Big Ten. The Badgers ranked second in opponent’s field goal percentage at 40%. Both were on display on Friday night.
Rutgers was held to just 22 points in the second half. They shot 37% from the field and 2-19 from three-point range.
The Scarlet Knights scored the first four points of the game before Wisconsin went on a 15-3 run to gain control. Rutgers was able to hang around thanks to strong play down low and trailed 33-32 heading into the break.
Rutgers was able to get a lead in the second half but it never grew larger than two. As minutes ticked off the clock, the defense of Wisconsin began wearing down the Scarlet Knights.
Early on it was Brad Davison and late it was D’Mitrik Trice. Davison scored nine of the first 11 points for the Badgers during their first half run. Trice was the finisher scoring eight in a row over a three minute span late in the second half. These two led the balanced attack offensively for Wisconsin.
Davison and Allen Ford led the way with 14 points each. Trice was right behind them with 13 while Micah Potter finished with 10. Jacob Young was the only Scarlet Knight to get comfortable offensively with 19 points on 9-15 from the field. Ron Harper Jr. was held to just 4 points on 2-13 shooting.
The return of Omoruyi cannot get lost in the shuffle. Rutgers dominated this game inside and that was the reason they were able to hang around. The Scarlet Knights won the rebounding battle 50-35 an outscored Wisconsin 42-18 in the paint. Rutgers struggled from three-point range and, of course, the free throw line finishing 2-7.
This loss makes it four in a row for the Scarlet Knights and five of their last six. The Big Ten schedule is going to be daunting for all teams but Rutgers has been having a really tough go. This is a competitive team that has not been finding ways to win games and free throw shooting can be referenced. This is something that will hurt come March.
The schedule will not get any easier for Rutgers as they prepare to play two straight on the road. They will take on Penn State on Thursday before a trip to Bloomington next Sunday against Indiana. Is your hand on or hovering above the panic button yet? If not, this might be coming soon.