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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Rutgers 76-72 Win Over Minnesota

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

What a gutsy, gutsy way to win it. Aaron and Greg will have your recaps and analysis. I got your hot takes.

Four Thoughts

Caleb McConnell and the Rutgers Defense: The Scarlet Knights weren’t flawless all night, but they locked it down when it mattered. Marcus Carr was going off in the second half, very much putting a win in jeopardy, but Caleb McConnell and the Rutgers defense stepped up in the last minute. McConnell and smart double teams took Carr out of the game, causing him to force a three and nearly turn the ball over. Rutgers defense stepped up when it mattered most and won them the game. Not to mention, Caleb hit a three to put Rutgers up late and get the momentum going.

Geo Baker is The Closer: When Rutgers got down with about 6 minutes left, you knew where the ball was headed and Geo didn’t disappoint. Geo had 16 points, 2 steals and 2 assists. He made two lay-ups in a row to pull Rutgers close and then he hit a floater to give the Scarlet Knights the lead for good. It was vintage Baker. He wasn’t lights out, but you knew you could count on him tonight. He did what Marcus Carr couldn’t—he won the game. Plus he pulled in an offensive rebound on Ron Harper Jr.’s missed free throw to end the game.

More Superlatives for Myles Johson: Johnson had his 13th career double double tonight with 14 points and 12 boards. He anchored the defense and was so efficient it was a beautiful thing to watch. I questioned coach Steve Pikiell’s use of Johnson to double team Carr, because center Liam Robbins had a big game, but in the end the strategy paid off. He might not be Rutgers best player, but he’s the best defensive center in the conference and Rutgers most important player.

This One is for the Commenters: I will get lit up in the comments if I don’t mention Jacob Young and Montez Mathis. Neither had good games, and the offense was completely out of sync most of the time when they were in the game. Young had six turnovers and a brutal technical foul at the end of the half. Mathis didn’t seem interested in anything on the offensieve end but his own shot. However, they both also played key rolls. Young’s 9 points and Mathis’ defense came at key points early in the game. Rutgers may not have been able to survive a heck of a fun basketball game without them.