Rutgers wins! They came to play from the tip and they reaped the rewards. What a game.
That Was Rutgers Basketball: After lacking the toughness, the defense and the rebounding that has been a staple of the Steve Pikiell era, the Scarlet Knights brought it all back. Shaking up the starting line-up by inserting Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell, it was evident from the start that this wasn’t the Rutgers team we saw during the losing streak that lasted nearly all of January. They shared the ball, and didn’t isolate much. That added ball movement helped the offense in a myriad of ways and the shots went in. They outrebounded the Hoosiers 32-29 and were a force on the glass. It felt like the old days as Rutgers got back to basics. It wasn’t a perfect win—though they made their free throws, they still missed a few key shots down the stretch. And Geo Baker took a very odd technical that I’ve never seen called before. But a win is a win is a win. Take it and get on the plane.
Geo Baker, Big Shot Maker: This was the Geo we’ve been waiting for this season. He made four threes and had the ball in his hands for most of the game. He pushed the pace when he could and slowed it down when needed. Geo made smart decisions, finishing with 19 points, 5 assists and a steal. Rutgers needed their leader to be the guy to get them out of the doldrums and they did. Need to see this Geo the rest of the way to get the season back on track.
Ron Harper Jr. Did the Dirty Work: While he wasn’t Ron Fire today, he affected the game in so many ways. He had a double double with 15 points and 12 boards. He was a force on defense and he got in and did the dirty work, pulling down rebounds, getting steals and diving for loose balls. That’s the thing about the players on this team—they can have a huge night scoring, like Geo did or they can get in and muck it up in other ways. Ron still hit double digits, but he wasn’t lights out. He did what was needed to win and helped the team look in sync the whole night.
Myles Johnson Has Long Arms: The offensive rebound Myles pulled down at the end of the game may have been the biggest rebound of the season. And that’s what Myles does. The refs still don’t know how to blow a whistle on him because he plays without fouling and still ends up in foul trouble. He was 4-4 from the field, to finish with 8 points, 8 boards, 5 blocks and 3 steals. Nearly everyone was clicking today, and Myles was an engine for all the minutes he played. Just a huge game from the redshirt junior.
BONUS FIFTH THOUGHT: Rutgers booster Al Reicheg asked the Court Club Twitter account what they would do for a win. He suggested that the CC account reach out to me and give a football thought for the day. Reicheg and site editor Aaron Breitman are big Green Bay Packers fans and they want to go 2-0 today. Rutgers did their part, so I’m wishing Green Bay well today—even though I’m a Giants fan. Good luck, Green Bay. May you streak to the endzone the same way Jacob Young streaks to the hoop.