The Scarlet Knights sauntered into Chicago to face Northwestern—who was on a 7 game losing streak. In a game that was whistled tightly by the refs, Rutgers did what they needed to do and brought their Big Ten record back to .500 with nine left to play.
Get Geo Baker the Ball: This was the biggest change Steve Pikiell made when he shook up the starting line-up. He made Geo the point guard again. The ball just moves more and with a purpose when Geo is the point guard. Paul Mulcahy helps in this situation as well—looking to find the open man. But Geo knows when to shoot and when to pass. That helped tonight. You could see when Northwestern made their runs—Geo wasn’t on the ball.
Withstanding Sloppiness: This game was sloppy and a lot of people are going to want to focus on that. Rutgers turned the ball over a lot and they didn’t make their free throws. But they came out and built a 20 point lead early and held on. That’s what you need to do. Back to .500 in the Big Ten and ready to roll. There are eight games left, and they aren’t all perfect. This is what you wanted to see against Penn State, but we got it tonight. Rutgers played and withstood a run against a desperate team.
Jacob Young Came to Play: Jacob Young got taken out of the starting line up a couple of games ago, but tonight it didn’t matter. Off the bench, he scored the most on the team with 19. He hit the biggest shot late in the game, an isolation long 2-point jump shot that essentially sealed things. His smile and his energy is electric. It’s great to see him successful in this role.
Three Road Wins: Rutgers has now won 3 Big Ten road games, which makes up for their 3 home losses. Now, the Scarlet Knights are in hold serve mode. Win the home games and Rutgers will finish .500 in the league. Win the home games and steal another road win? Now we’re talking. Getting this win was important and no matter how they looked, they got it. Now comes a home game against Minnesota. Keep it rolling.